By Catherine Kozak
© April 12, 2008
Roanoke island, N.C.
Until recently, an oil painting of Queen Elizabeth I had been hanging, unprotected and barely noticed, in the gift shop at The Elizabethan Gardens gatehouse.
It is believed that the portrait was painted in 1592, when Elizabeth would have been about 60 years old. It is one of the few portraits of the queen in her declining years.
If it is authentic, it could be worth millions.
“Certainly, paintings of Elizabeth are pretty sought-after,” said Christopher Apostle, senior vice president and director of old master paintings at Sotheby’s in New York. “It would be valuable.”
The earliest known full-length image of the monarch, who died in 1603, sold at Sotheby’s in London on Nov. 22 for more than $5.3 million, Apostle said.