How A Painting 80 Years Lost Was Rediscovered In Stuart Little Movie

This is a really cool story, honestly.

Sometime after 1928, the painting Sleeping Lady with Black Vase by Hungarian painter Róbert Berény vanished. It was one of many paintings that went missing in the particular circumstances of Europe in the 1920s-40s period. It was not to be seen again for 70 years.

On the set for the 1999 cult classic (eh eh) Stuart Little, one of Sony Pictures’ designers bought a curious-looking Art Deco artwork for $500. She hung it up in Stuart’s house as set dressing. She thought it was “perfect for Stuart Little’s living room”.

10 years later, a Hungarian art historian’s little daughter, bored on Christmas day, wanted to watch a movie. To appease her, Gergely Barki put on Stuart Little, wherein he saw something that looked familiar. He had seen a black and white photograph of a missing artwork that was last exhibited in 1928, and this painting seemed very much like it. “Sleeping Lady with Black Vase”. This couldn’t be a fake, could it?

Sleeping Lady with Black Vase, Róbert Berény, 1928

Barki spent two years sending emails and making phone calls to track it down. Eventually, he reached the set designer, who had bought it and hung it in her home. The duo started talking and eventually, they fell in love – in love with the idea that he should come to the United States to verify its authenticity. Barki travelled in. After borrowing a screwdriver from a hotdog seller to unscrew it from the wall he verified the artwork as the original Bereny!

In 2014, the painting was sold to a Hungarian collector for $285,700. Very nice.


Angry at the modern world for my own lack of taste.

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