June 21, 2016 / 10:02 PM / 3 years ago

Executed British spy's sketch auctioned in New York

Sketches done in the late 1700s by John Andre, a British spy with ties to Benedict Arnold, are pictured in this undated handout photograph. Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries/Handout via REUTERS

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A portrait sketched by British spy John Andre, who was executed for funneling messages to Revolutionary War turncoat Benedict Arnold, sold for $47,500 on Tuesday, said the New York auction house that sold it.

The pencil drawing on paper, dated sometime in 1776, portrays Abraham Cornelius Cuyler, mayor of Albany, New York, and his wife, Jannetje Jacobse Glen, who were strong British loyalists, Swann Auction Galleries spokeswoman Alexandra Nelson said.

“A drawing like this, it enlivens the period,” Nelson said. “It makes you feel like these are real people.”

Andre, a British officer, stayed as a guest at the couple’s home at the time of the drawing.

He was captured by American Continental Army officials and hanged on Oct. 2, 1780, after being convicted of spying for the British. Andre was accused of relaying military information to Arnold, a Continental Army general who gained infamy among Americans for defecting to the British.

The artwork, believed to be the first by Andre to be auctioned, was passed down to his family members through the generations. Nelson said she could not immediately disclose who purchased the portrait.

Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Peter Cooney

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