Hungarian gov't buys famous painting Golgotha for 10.75 mln USD

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BUDAPEST, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- The Hungarian government has purchased the famous 19th century Hungarian painter Mihaly Munkacsy's monumental painting Golgotha, Minister of the Prime Minister's Office Gergely Gulyas said at a press conference here on Wednesday.

"The government purchased the painting from Hungarian-born American art collector Imre Pakh for 3 billion forints (10.75 million U.S. dollars)," Gulyas said.

Golgotha (1884) is part of a trilogy, and the acquisition means that all three pieces of Munkacsy's famous Christ Trilogy are now owned by the Hungarian state.

The state had already owned Ecce Homo! (1896) for years and bought Christ before Pilate (1881) from Canada's Art Gallery of Hamilton for 5.7 million U.S. dollars in 2015, with funding from the National Bank of Hungary's program to buy national art treasures, according to Gulyas.

The purchase of the famous painting was preceded by several years of negotiations. In 2015, talks between the Hungarian government and Pakh on the possible sale of Golgotha to the state collapsed and Pakh was ready to have the painting removed from Deri Museum in Debrecen, eastern Hungary, where it had been exhibited as a property of Pakh.

The government later initiated a procedure to place Golgotha on a list of protected artworks to prevent it from being permanently removed from the country. In response, Pakh ordered the painting to be veiled from public view.

In 2016, the Hungarian heritage authority decided to give Golgotha protected status. Pakh appealed the decision, but his claim was rejected.

The following year, Hungary's supreme court ordered a retrial in the case.

Last year, the government and Pakh entered into negotiations on the painting's purchase and a deal has finally been found.

Munkacsy (1844-1900) earned international recognition for his genre pictures and large-scale biblical paintings.

The Munkacsy trilogy has only been known in Hungary since the 1990s, as the painting had earlier been in the United States for decades. Since then, the Hungarian audience could see the pictures at several successful exhibitions.

The three paintings are exhibited in Deri Museum in Debrecen, which is two hours away by car from Budapest.


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