How Stuart Little cracked a nine decades old art mystery

Evan Bartlett@ev_bartlett
Sunday 30 November 2014 10:10
Sleeping Lady with Black Vase

A Hungarian painting that disappeared in the 1920s was discovered by an art historian after he spotted it being used as a prop in the Stuart Little film.

Gergely Barki, 43, noticed Sleeping Lady with Black Vase by Robert Bereny when he was watching the Hollywood film with his daughter in 2009.

After recognising the painting, Barki frantically sent a number of emails to the film's producers to see if he could track it down.

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.

  • Gergely Barki

Two years later he received a reply from one of the film's set designers who had the painting hanging up on her wall.

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.

  • Gergely Barki

The set designer had subsequently sold the painting to a private collector who has now taken the picture to Budapest in Hungary for it to be sold at auction.

It is set to go on sale on 13 December with a starting price of €110,000 (£87,500).

Although it is not entirely clear how the painting ended up in the US, it is believed the original owner of the painting may have fled Hungary in or before the Second World War.

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