View Comments

An amateur art collector trawling through a Paris antique 'junk shop' has uncovered the missing part of an infamous and scandalous artistic masterpiece estimated to be worth over $53 million.

Exhaustive scientific tests have proven the painting of a woman’s head is the missing piece of Gustave Courbet’s 147-year-old The Origin Of The World, a controversial work of art depicting the female genitalia.

It has been long thought the head of the woman was removed deliberately to protect the modesty of the subject of the painting, which was deemed so scandalous it wasn’t displayed in one of Paris’ most prestigious museums until 1988.

The anonymous art-buff who discovered the 1866 painting in a Bric-à-brac purchased the rare find for £1200 (A$1833) before it was recognised and estimated to be worth £35 million (A$53.47 million) wants to re-attach the head almost a century and a half after the woman was painted.

Jean-Jacques Fernier, author of a recognised catalogue of Courbet’s work has described the discovery as a “highly important find, admitting it is one of the “most daring in the history of painting”.

Despite being regarded by some as vulgar or pornographic by some, art connoisseurs and French media are proclaiming finally that ‘The Origin Of The World finally has a face’.

A man has bought a painting of a woman's head from a 'junk shop' now believed to be worth $53 million.