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Two paintings by Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn may leave France without as much as a whimper as the country says it’s too broke to buy them.

With the government’s coffers bare, France’s culture ministry is letting banking tycoon Eric de Rothschild export the masterpieces, paving the way for a sale that could fetch more than 150 million euros ($163 million), according to estimates. Under French law, major artworks can’t leave the country without the state’s permission. If the country denies permission, it must buy the art within 30 months.

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The portraits of Maerten Soolmans and Oopjen Coppit, a young and successful couple that Rembrandt van Rijn painted just before their wedding in 1634, might hit the market very soon, "El País" reports.

The sale could be a sensational event, as the paintings have been in France since 1877, when they were bought by Baron Gustave de Rothschild, and have rarely been displayed in public since.

The current owner, Eric de Rothschild, has obtained an export permit, granted by the French Ministry of Culture and the Louvre Museum, and according to the French publication "La Tribune de l'Art," has put a €150 million price tag on the paintings in the documents.

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