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Long-lost art masterpiece found after 90 years... hanging in a scene from Stuart Little

‘Sleeping Lady with Black Vase’ disappeared in the 1920s and hadn’t been seen since. Until…

A LONG-LOST avant-garde painting has returned home to Hungary after nine decades thanks to a sharp-eyed art historian who spotted it being used as a prop in the Hollywood film “Stuart Little”.

Gergely Barki, a researcher at Hungary’s National Gallery, was watching the 1999 kids’ movie about a mouse with his daughter Lola when he spotted Sleeping Lady with Black Vase by Robert Bereny (1888-1953).

The painting on the wall in the film, behind Hugh Laurie and Geena Davis Source: Tumblr

The painting disappeared almost 90 years ago and has not been seen since. Barki, 43, told AFP:

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Bereny’s long-lost masterpiece on the wall behind Hugh Laurie, I nearly dropped Lola from my lap.

“A researcher can never take his eyes off the job, even when watching Christmas movies at home,” he said.

The painting disappeared in the 1920s but Barki recognised it immediately even though he had only seen a faded black-and-white photo dating from a 1928 exhibition archived in the National Gallery.

After spotting the painting in 2009, Barki sent a flurry of emails to staff at the film’s makers Sony Pictures and Columbia Pictures, receiving a reply from a former Sony employee, a set designer – two years later.

“She said the picture was hanging on her wall,” Barki told AFP.

“She had snapped it up for next-to-nothing in an antiques shop in Pasadena, California, thinking its avant-garde elegance was perfect for Stuart Little’s living room.”

After leaving Sony the set-designer sold the painting to a private collector who has now brought the picture to Budapest for auction.

Bereny, the leader of a pre-World War I avant-garde movement called the “Group of Eights”, fled to Berlin in 1920 after designing recruitment posters for Hungary’s short-lived communist revolution in 1919.

Source: vitaminkate

There he had a romance with actress Marlene Dietrich, and, according to Barki, a rumoured fling with Anastasia, the mysterious daughter of Russia’s last tsar Nicholas II.

Bereny’s painting goes under the hammer December 13 with a starting price of around €110,000, staff at the Virag Judit auction house said.

© AFP 2014

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