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Lost Masterpiece That Became Film Prop Sells For $285,000

An avant-garde painting, lost for nine decades until a Hungarian researcher spotted it being used as a prop in a Hollywood film, was sold on December 13 for more than $285,000.

The painting “Sleeping Lady with Black Vase,” by Robert Bereny, brought in more than twice its reserve price at auction in Budapest when it was bought by an unnamed private Hungarian collector.

Gergely Barki, a researcher from the Hungarian National Gallery, noticed the painting six years ago as he watch the children’s film “Stuart Little” with his daughter on Christmas Eve.

The work disappeared in the late 1920s, and Barki had only seen a black-and-white photo if it from a 1928 exhibition catalog archived in the National Gallery.

After several years of writing e-mails to people involved in making the film, he made contact with a woman who bought the painting for next-to-nothing at a California antiques shop and used it as a film prop.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP