Portrait of an Elizabethan gentleman, $32,000 (£26,500) at Clarke.

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The estimate at Clarke Auction Gallery (23% buyer’s premium) in Larchmont, New York, was $3000-5000.

Although in outwardly poor condition, the cracks to the 2ft 9in x 2ft panel (84 x 61cm) had been cradled and several areas of paint loss were confined to the costume where restoration could work wonders.

Equally, while the name of the subject dressed in the fashion c.1580 was not identified, the Latin inscriptions and the heraldry (a shield of three gold escallops and two chevrons on a red ground) will give the purchaser some clues.

Flanking the sitter are vignettes of cherubs and the words Quot capita, Tot sententiae (so many men, so many opinions) and the wistful lines Nemo ex omni parte beates (There is no perfection so absolute) and Eft virtus rara qua non fortuna guberuah (Rare is the virtue that’s not ruled by Fortune).

Some clue to its provenance was provided by a Christie’s stencil and a parcel label reading Churchill.