In 1999, Stuart Little jumped from the pages of his beloved children’s book series to the big screen with full force. The story of a loving, eccentric and prominent family who adopt the little guy from the orphanage and goes on wonderful adventures (and even manages to make friends with the family cat) was a HUGE hit, spawning two sequels.
But what no one knew until 2009 is that the innocuous painting hanging over the Littles’ fireplace was more than just a mere wall decoration; it was a serious work of art created by a renowned Hungarian artist.
When art historian Gergely Barki (above) sat down to watch this family classic, he noticed that the painting over the mantel was no ordinary work of art. In fact, said painting — purchased for a mere $500 by an assistant set designer — was in fact the long-missing “Sleeping Lady with Black Vase,” by avant-garde artist Berény Róbert, member of Hungary’s iconic “The Eight” (who introduced cubism and expressionism to Hungary before WWI).
“I went to the television and tried to clean the windscreen. Is it real?” Barki said in an interview with ABC News.
After the Stuart Little series, “Sleeping Lady” was then sold to a private collector who has now decided to put it up for auction at the Virag Judit (Hungary auction house) with a starting price of $138,000. It’s expected to sell for at least $325,000. A far cry from the $500 paid by the film’s set decorator. It just goes to show that you never can tell what kinds of treasures you can find right under your nose — or, in this case, on your TV.
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