Art: Out of the Flea Market

Jesús Martin Benito was a Basque peasant boy who had hoped for fame as an artist. When he failed at that, he turned to art-doctoring, two years ago became one of the eight official restorers in Madrid's museum, the Prado. On the side, he haunted junk shops looking for castoff paintings—cleaning, patching and touching them up for resale at a tidy profit. One day in Toledo's rastro (flea market) he came across a rare find: a filthy five-by-ten-inch scrap of an old painting that looked like an authentic bit of 17th Century canvas. Jesús bought it for 15 pesetas ($1.35).

That...

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