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After the sale auctioneer Guy Swinge was understandably keen to protect the anonymity of the successful telephone bidder, who was enigmatically described as a "European buyer".

However, ATG can now reveal that the buyer was the London and Florence Old Master dealer Fabrizio Moretti.

A prominent exhibitor at TEFAF Maastricht and New York's International Fine Art Fair, Moretti specialises in Italian gold ground paintings, currently one of the more buoyant areas of the Old Master market.

"I bought the paintings for stock, but will be giving first option to the Italian Minister of Culture," Fabrizio Moretti told ATG. "We're already talking to the Ministry. They're being very positive."

Should the Italian Government, who dropped out of the bidding at Duke's at around £1.5m, successfully buy the panels, they will take their place alongside the remaining elements of the Fra Angelico's altarpiece in the San Marco Museum.

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