NEW YORK CITY (CBSMiami) — A lost treasure of the English monarchy may have just turned up in a New York City rug gallery.
The missing artwork vanished sometime after the death of King Henry the VIII in the 16th century.
Scholars Roger Michel and Alexy Karenowska are on the trail of English history. In the high-end but hidden away New York City rug gallery, they believe they could be looking at a tapestry that once hung in the Hampton Court Palace in London and belonged to royalty.
“This tapestry could have been the witness to extraordinary history,” said Michel, an Executive Director at the Institute for Digital Archaeology.
King Henry VIII commissioned ten tapestries like it, each depicting the life of Julius Caesar. If genuine, it could be worth tens of millions of dollars.
But not one of the original ten have been seen in hundreds of years.
“I think it’s absolutely clear what we have here is something really, very significant,” Michel offered confidently.
Michel and Karenowska, from the University of Oxford, said it’s the right size, age, and subject matter to match the king’s. They plan to test the work’s authenticity with help from the Institute of Digital Archeology, a group that uses technology to drill into the past.
“What we hope to do is to get down into the weave and weft of this thing, and essentially take its fingerprints,” said Michel.
They joined the case after getting an email from Mary Beard, a professor at Cambridge University, who came across an image of the tapestry on the shop’s website.
In the centuries following their disappearance, the tapestries were reproduced. Beard’s view is the tapestry found in New York City is one of those replicas.
If it turns out to be the real thing, Michel and Karenowska would like to see it returned to Henry’s palace at Hampton Court.
As for how it was lost, one theory is that it was sent for cleaning and just never picked up.