Art historians around the world are searching for a missing £13m masterpiece last seen in Aberdeenshire.
A varied history, the huge 16th century Venetian painting Pool of Bethesda has hung in palaces around the world, but remarkably its last known location is Peterhead in 1904, housed in the town’s Arbuthnot Museum.
Dating back beyond the 1800s, the painting is known to have hung in the Palazzo Grassi in Venice before landing in the hands of Catherine the Great at a London auction.
Later it was given to an Aberdeen University rector, who is believed to have kept the painting on his estate near the city.
Eventually, the multi-million-pound artistry was flown across the world to Australia and was exhibited at the Melbourne Athenaeum, where experts at the University of Melbourne suspected it was later raffled off.
In efforts of tracking the painting down, the art detectives issued an online appeal – with hopes the Veronese could be in a private collection somewhere in Australia.
It was then that an unlikely duo came together.
Fiona Riddell, a decade’s long curatorial assistant at Peterhead Museum, wrote to the Melbourne professors to inform them that the painting had been shipped back to Scotland by north-east man James Volum hundreds of years ago.
Now retired, Ms Riddell had already been on the search for the painting herself, in an investigation spanning more than ten years.
But the trail runs cold after 1904.
“One of my last words before I retired was that I am going to try and find this painting,” she told STV News.
“When I saw the online appeal, my heart nearly came through my mouth. I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing and then I saw the value and that really threw me as well because I had never even thought of that.”