CANTERBURY, England (RNS) He bought it a dozen years ago at a local antiques shop to help brighten up a Derbyshire retreat home run by his church.

"Magistrate of Brussels" by Anthony Van Dyck, after restoration in 2013.

“Magistrate of Brussels” by Anthony Van Dyck, after restoration in 2013. Photo courtesy of Anthony van Dyck, (public domain) via Wikimedia Commons


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But when he tried to sell it to buy church bells, the Roman Catholic priest was told by an art expert that the painting, the “Magistrate of Brussels,” in a large gold varnished frame that he’d bought for about $575 at the time, was the work of the great 17th-century Flemish artist Anthony Van Dyck.

“It’s been an emotional experience and it’s such great news,” the Rev. Jamie MacLeod said after being told the painting was valued at about $660,000.

It’s a story that has stunned the art world and encouraged amateur collectors the world over to take another look at what’s hanging on their walls.

The sensational discovery was made by journalist Fiona Bruce who presents the popular weekly TV series, “Antiques Roadshow” where art experts put a cash value on family heirlooms and little regarded family treasures often hidden away in spare rooms and attics.

Bruce identified MacLeod’s painting as a possible Van Dyck original in June.

She’d been working alongside art expert Philip Mould on a planned TV series about the Dutch master who was the most famous of all court painters during the turbulent reign of the English monarch, King Charles I (1625-1649).

Following detailed restoration work, the painting was verified as a Van Dyck original by one of the world’s authorities on that painter, Christopher Brown.

MacLeod said selling the painting was “a very difficult decision” but that it would help him with his ambition to install new church bells to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

YS/AMB END GRUNDY

14 Comments

  1. Millions of children are starving all over the world, and this “Holy” man’s “ambition” is spend this money “to install new church bells to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I”.
    The only thing I can feel from this story is disgust.
    I agree Frank, “His actions are a sign of a true Christian”, sadly.

      • Not really, I don’t even drink. Do you have some personal challenges with alcohol that would trigger that thought?
        Since you said I was a hypocrite perhaps you somehow know what I would have done with it, or even what I already do in so far as Charitable contributions, even without a windfall like that.
        But alas, a man learned enough to put Dr. in front of his name is still not omniscience, so you don’t. However that lack of knowledge doesn’t stop you from you from judging me, even though that is against your Lords teachings you follow, like Mathew 7:1, Luke 6:37 & 4, and Romans 2:1, just to name a few, you hypocrite.
        I don’t believe that there is any evidence God exists, and that religion is a disease, and science has the cure.
        I do however believe that we should all be concerned with each other, and that is the story I and a lot of others get from your book. Although I don’t believe in the entire old testament, the virgin birth, any of the miracles, or the whole son of God thing, I do believe, because of corroborating historical documentation (scientific evidence) that your Jesus actually lived. He did however, at least in the Biblical version, serve as an example of how we should treat one another in this life.
        Unfortunately many “Christians” don’t seem to get that message, or at least don’t act on if they do, like this “Holy” man whose only “ambition” is to buy a bell, albeit for an honorable thing, and yours for judging me without evidence. But then that should not surprise me, as faith is belief without evidence.
        By the way Karl, praying doesn’t work. However I would be more than delighted if you can prove me wrong. Tell you what, you pray for all amputees to regrow their limbs. Let’s just start in the U.S. for now, you can expand later. I’m sure if it works it will make national headlines. As soon it happens I will stand up an admit I’m wrong, but that will never happen, and I know why, but you apparently don’t.
        Maybe one day you will shake off the veil of religion that clouds your eyes, and finally know wisdom yourself, but about that, I simply don’t have any faith.

    • Canon Jamie Macleod

      I thought I would reply to you, something that you have done is to judge me, not knowing what I do.

      Firstly my work and vocation as a priest is to serve God, to feed the people, foster vocations, to see to the sick, the poor and to be able to proclaim the gospel.

      I am on call 7 days a week, and as I live in a religious community, am use to people coming and knocking on the front door early hours of the morning, the phone ringing and I never turn people away, as it may be Christ himself standing on the door.

      The work of the community which is a registered charity is about unity, ecumenenism, cohesion and the understanding of other traditions.

      The bells are a small part of what we are doing here, while we providing services for the poor, and people who have very little I will like to add the following.

      Have you ever ended up with no home no belongings and had no proper shelter for two years?

      I did that when my family unit split and my father went missing, so regarding what you think I should do or what disgusts you, please ask yourself is the person spending all the money on one thing, or has he got plans in order to do things to help others in the long term.

      You see the bells will also support the work of the charity, to help others in the future, as we have been doing since 1967, so as we have fed watered clothed and given the homeless beds over the years, I intend to carry on, feeding up to 70 people on a Christmas day can be hard work when you have had pneumonia and your colleagues are in their 70`S and 80`s but it’s what we have done here for these past years, so to have the bells recast or evening to commemorate the fallen not just for the 1st world war but also remembering those who have lost their lives in present wars, is a small reminder of what they have given for our today.

      I am sorry that you had a need to judge me without knowing me or some of my work over the years, but I hope his has given you a step into what we do.

      • Jamie,
        First let me congratulate you on the bestowal of a Canonry by Archbishop Doughty on the Feast of the Epiphany in Abbey Church. You are very young for all the responsibility, but I’m sure you will do great with your vocation of formation director, which includes fostering vocations and encouraging the on-going development of the clergy, and apparently other things as well.

        Also, thanks for articulating the sacrifices you make for your vocations. The fact that you shared them with not only me, but with everyone else who reads RNS makes a statement, more than just the words written, as does your need to make your comment to me. I think the sacrifices probably make you feel that much closer to the God in which you believe and serve, and this reply to your comment may have already served as a Cathartic experience for you.

        Ironically, I manage the maintenance of a production facility (factory), and am also on call 24/7, and get calls at all hours. Since I live 40 miles (64 Km) away though, I can’t just walk down and open the door to address some of the issues that come up. It is also a sacrifice in my life “off the clock”, but I may not get the same feelings about it as perhaps you do.

        We also share similarities in split unit childhoods. My mother had chemical dependency issues, so she offered little care. My father, who unfortunately for me and my brother, didn’t “go missing”. He professed to be a God fearing man, made us go to church, and was strong enough in his faith that he made occasional visits, when not working, to issue discipline, as he wanted to be sure he did not “spare the rod and spoil the child”. I can’t say I never lived on the street though, my childhood taught me self-reliance, and I’ve always been able to use both my mind and hands to be able to make money, honestly, for myself and my family.

        I’m glad that you are feeding the poor in your community who need it. I see that you’ve been asking for donations for your bells, but not to help to “feed the people”, which I find curious. Maybe the earnings from the Hall do it, or maybe you do it with some of those mince pies and mulled wine after they view your 1st class relics, bone of saint, turret clock, or your wonderful organ and bells, topped off with Mr. Mercer directing the Oratory Choir in some of its beautiful songs.

        Whaley Hall and the Abbey look beautiful. The hall is quite an expensive stay though. However maybe one day I’ll pay the $271.76 USD to reserve a room. Instead of going for a walk, rock climbing, or sailing in Goyt Valley, or exploring the Blue John, and purchasing one of those $6000.00 USD chalices, or even sitting on the balcony of the Top Gallery, watching the Sun go down while enjoying a cup of coffee, I don’t drink alcohol so not a G & T (Gin & Tonic?), I’ll come help you serve the poor.

        Your area of Reservoir Rd. is very nice (Google Earth). The poor don’t live in places like that where I live. Maybe they live close by, across the tracks, or do travel to you, or you to them.

        Unfortunately the article was obviously lacking information that would have been necessary for me to draw the conclusion that I did, and I formulated it anyway, and commented.

        To do so I used previous information I know about the Catholic Church, like it is the wealthiest Church in the world, and is the only one that has its own city-state. It has many huge Cathedrals and other buildings, most of which are extremely opulent, all of which cost huge sums of money to build, and continually cost millions to maintain. It has hospitals, and universities in its “network” as well.

        I find this to be 180 degrees opposite of the teachings of Jesus as it is written in your Bible. I understood his words to mean not to care about wealth of this world, and to compassionately serve those less fortunate. I agree with the first part, although I feel you have a responsibility to take care of your family, however I do believe it is our moral obligation to help those less fortunate than ourselves when you can. Although it is not a belief in God that makes me feel this way, my morals are innate, as they are with most people.

        I also added in all your Church’s pedophile cleric “pandemic”, which I trust you have never been involved in as a victim, or perpetrator. Included was the lack of real meaningful response to it by your past Popes, and even new Pope as well. I then wrapped it all up in an emotional outburst of an expression of disgust.

        Finally, I get to your Cathartic experience, since I may just have had one myself.

        I took the information given, and coupled it with other facts and emotions about them that you were not responsible for, and projected it all into my statement.

        I made a judgment and statement that was in error, and I sincerely apologize.

        For penance I could say a few Hail Mary’s…..only kidding. ;-)

        Your brother in humanity,
        Earold Gunter (Welsh by heritage by the way)

        • Fr Jamie Macleod

          Many thanks for your email,

          QAnd your proberbly shocked when I say on some of the issues I do understand where you are coming from.

          However !

          I personally can not be blamed for where the church of any tradition, society of any time, or how money has been spent in every generation.

          What I do know is that I put everything I have in trying to make a charity and retreat house work for which I never judge if it’s a millionaire who comes through the door or if it was the poorest person in the world they both get welcomed.

          Over the years people have come here that have had nothing, people who may not have long to live, people who may have no faith but that’s what we as humans should be doing, it’s called loving your neighbour.

          As a retreat house we survive by donations and people using our facilities.

          It may surprise you, but we don’t get money from any diocese or the government.

          It’s not easy and at times you can feel like why do you bother !

          We’ll the reason is because I care not only for this charity but also for the work it has been able to do over the years and in this country if it had not been for charities like ours a lot of people would not of been able to have done what they were able to have done.

          Their was a story about a lifeboat station that had always gone out in all weather’s to rescue people, they had done this for many years, and one day a volunteer was taken on, after a year he said as we meet each week wouldn’t it be great to have a shower room lounge tv and even a bar !
          So they did and time went on and they were still going out then one day someone called for help and no one came because they were too busy watching tv !

          The morrall of the story is that we should never forget either what we are about it what has taken place 100 years ago or 2000 years ago.

          I hope that I am able to still make a difference for society, and that when I eventually am called to rest that the work of this charity and community will carry on, because in this 21st century their is a greater need, for places like here.

          I am sure that in America and other countries that their are similar places, what I would invite you to do is go and help !

          It is easy for other in the comfort of their own homes to decide how charities should be run hidden behind closed Windows, but if you really want to help turn a charity youth hostel, Tec round and have the gifts to do it then please do !!!!

          Their are a lot of charities struggling either financial or volunteers, and I would urge you to come forward.

          It has been nice hearing from you and I thank you for your input.

          Happy New Year.

          • Jamie,
            Thanks for your reply. I appreciate the work you do, as I’m sure so do many others. Since your word sound as if you think otherwise, rest assured I’m not sitting on the side lines as far as charities towards my fellow man. Although I strive to not be involved with religious charities, I do not only donate money, but also my time, which to me is the most precious gift as I don’t believe in eternity to other non-religious charities.

            Keep up the good work, and vigilance.

            Your brother in humanity,
            Earold Gunter

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