A Belgian Castle painted by Peter Paul Rubens is now on market

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NEW YORK — If finding the home of your dreams is an art form, there’s no doubt the famed painter Peter Paul Rubens knew what he was doing. The 17th century star of the Flemish Baroque movement lived the final five years of his life in central Belgium’s Elewijt Castle, a stunner less than a half-hour’s drive from downtown Brussels with origins stretching back to 1304. Now the property — over the years called Castle Het Steen and Rubens Kastee l— is on the market for €4 million ($4.9 million).

The sale includes three buildings: a six-bedroom sandstone residence with a high-ceilinged private chapel; a four-bedroom villa; and a tower complex that, despite its centuries-old history, boasts a decidedly modern four-car garage. There’s also a drawbridge and moat in the mix for impressing (or intimidating) guests.

For a little more than the median price of a luxury apartment in Manhattan ($4.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to StreetEasy), buyers will get soaring stone arches, intricate tile and parquet floors, and ornate fireplaces in many rooms, including one in the living room with Rubens’s coat of arms chiseled into it. In total, residents can make use of 33 rooms and amble over 20 acres of lush, rolling meadow.

As with any historic property, the overall design sense is one you’re either keen to keep or eager to renovate as your own.   The owner has gradually restored the castle since 1955, and in 2009 it was granted heritage designation.

Beyond any potential renovation or design costs, would-be buyers need to consider annual upkeep as well. German aristocrat Christoph von Schenck, a “castles expert” for the real estate agency Engel & Völkers AG (which also lists Elewijt Castle), told Bloomberg that annual upkeep for a small to medium-size home such as this might cost $118,040 a year, and perhaps even more if there’s a gardener involved.

But for millionaires whose pockets run deep, an investment here pays dividends in bragging rights. Rubens depicted the home in several of his priceless paintings, including A View of Het Steen in the Early Morning, currently on display in London’s National Gallery. — Bloomberg