Florida banking regulators have ordered CenTrust Savings Bank, which lost $10 million in its most recent quarter, to sell a $12-million Peter Paul Rubens painting hanging in its chairman’s house.
The savings bank bought “Portrait of a Man as Mars” by the 16th-Century Flemish Rubens from Sotheby’s auction house for $12 million last fall.
“It’s a beautiful painting,” said CenTrust Chairman David Paul. “It’s not only a fine painting but it will appreciate nicely for the benefit of the institution.”
Paul, who is prominent in south Florida arts and fund-raising circles, said the painting is not an investment but part of the thrift’s “office furniture and fixtures.”
But the Florida Office of Comptroller said in a letter that the painting is “inherently speculative.” It wondered how the savings bank, which lost money in its last two quarters, including $10 million last quarter, could justify the purchase, and questioned why it was placed in the chairman’s house.