Missing Painting Found On Set Of 'Stuart Little'
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
Sometimes it's a tiny detail in a movie that really jumps out at you. Well, that's what happened six years ago when a Hungarian art historian was watching a movie with one of his children around Christmas time.
(SOUNDBITE OF "STUART LITTLE" AD)
UNIDENTIFIED NARRATOR: This holiday season, you're invited to meet the newest member of the Little family.
HUGH LAURIE: (As Fredrick Little) Attention, everybody.
GEENA DAVIS: (As Eleanor Little) This is Stuart.
MICHAEL J. FOX: (As Stuart Little) Hello.
BLOCK: 1999's "Stuart Little." So there's the art historian, Gergely Barki, on his couch in Budapest when he notices a painting in the movie.
GERGELY BARKI: It's the painting, which I have known from a black-and-white photograph, by a Hungarian painter called Robert Bereny.
BLOCK: The painting had been missing since 1928. It's called "Sleeping Lady With Black Vase."
BARKI: It was like a miracle of Christmas for me. It seems almost impossible to find a painting in hiding in Hollywood movie. It's really surreal.
BLOCK: The painter, Robert Bereny, was a renowned Hungarian avant-garde artist.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Next was figuring out how "Sleeping Lady With Black Vase" wound up in a Hollywood film.
BARKI: So sent an email to Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures, and they answered me immediately that they remember the painting, but they didn't find it.
CORNISH: Barki was undeterred. He sent emails to as many "Stuart Little" crew members as he could.
BLOCK: He received many polite replies, but no clues, until one day...
BARKI: Finally, about a month later or so, I received an email from the assistant set designer and she answered it - hi, Gergely, the painting is with me in my home. Whenever you come to the U.S., you are more than welcome to see the painting in real.
BLOCK: The assistant set designer wants to remain anonymous. She told Barki she bought the painting in a Pasadena, California, antique shop for $500.
CORNISH: And as with most Hollywood endings, this one too is happy. The painting is back in Hungary and will be up for auction later this month, with a starting price of more than a hundred thousand dollars.
BLOCK: And it's all due to a little talking mouse.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STUART LITTLE")
FOX: (As Stuart Little) This is the happiest moment of my life. I feel 10 inches tall.
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