The small oil painting by contemporary Australian artist Frank Jeffrey Edson Smart (b.1921), entitled Athenian Suburb, was uncovered during a routine valuation at a rural cottage near Bury St Edmunds. The decision was taken to fly the painting half way round the world to be sold in the best possible venue.
The work was spotted by Bonhams picture specialist Daniel Wright who said: "I am delighted with the significant sum fetched for the painting. This exemplifies the importance of selling art and antiques in the most suitable global context.
"The Australian art market is currently burgeoning and being able to send the work for sale in Sydney was a crucial factor in achieving such an exceptional result."
Born in Adelaide, Jeffrey Smart is one of Australia's foremost living artists and has visited East Anglia on several occasions. He trained at the South Australian School of Art and Crafts before a brief spell as an art teacher.
Despite having always favoured a career in architecture, his desire to paint grew and in 1948 he travelled around Europe and received further artistic training from Fernand Leger in Paris. He developed his trademark style - a brutal hyperrealism which usually took urban environments as the subject, typically airports, factories and petrol stations.
By 1964 Smart's reputation was blossoming and Italy was becoming his permanent home. It was in this year in Rome that he became good friends with Desmond Gregory, an English academic and art collector who bought the painting from Smart for the then not inconsiderable sum of £65.
The sale took place on November 14, but the story behind the consignment has only recently emerged.
See next week's printed ATG for a major review of the Australian and New Zealand art and antiques scene. To subscribe, click here.