Hugh Laurie, Jonathan Lipnicki, and Geena Davis in 1999’s Stuart Little, with the mysterious missing painting in the background
Though it only received lukewarm reviews from critics upon its 1999 release, it turns out that the children’s movie Stuart Little did contain at least one masterpiece.
Gergely Barki, a researcher at the Hungarian national gallery, was watching Rob Minkoff’s family comedy with his daughter in 2009 when he noticed what appeared to be, remarkably, a famous missing painting by the Hungarian avant-garde artist Róbert Berény on the wall of the Little family home. Barki couldn’t be sure, having only seen the painting in an old black and white photograph. (It went missing in the 1920s; Barki thought the original buyer was potentially Jewish and fled Hungary with the painting either before or during World War II.) The researcher was curious enough to email the studios behind the film, Sony and Columbia.
Two years later, he finally received a response from a former production designer who worked on the film. It turns out that the painting was indeed Berény’s ”Sleeping Lady with Black Vase,” and the designer had acquired it in an incredible way.
A closer look at “Sleeping Lady with Black Vase”
“She had snapped it up for next to nothing in an antiques shop in Pasadena, California,” Barki told Agence France-Presse, “thinking its avant-garde elegance was perfect for Stuart Little’s living room.”
The designer, who still had the painting on her own wall, went ahead and sold it to an art collector, who is now bringing it to Budapest to auction it off this month. The starting price? $110,000.
So, here’s some advice for you art collectors: Start watching Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties, which is sure to have priceless paintings and sculptures nestled within.