The piece, created by Auguste Rodin, was authenticated back in 2014, but because of security concerns and the approximate $4 million price tag it was kept secret.
Weighing some 700 pounds, the bust of Napoleon sat tucked away for 85 years in the corner of a Madison, New Jersey town hall.
“If we thought this was a real Rodin, surely someone would have done something about it,” said Mallory Mortillero.
Hired to catalogue pieces at the Hartley Dodge Foundation, Mortillero discovered a signature at the base of the bust. However, the piece came with no paperwork, so a second eye from an international expert in modern sculpture helped confirm that it was in fact an authentic work.
The piece was commissioned in 1904, then acquired by Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, who gifted it to the Hartley Dodge Foundation. It was then placed in the town hall.
Krista DiMarco is an associate professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She said there could be more works of art where this came from.
“There could always be more,” said DiMarco. “Works and paintings are purchased then traded and sold at different moments in history.”
Saying it is “deeply grateful for the wonderful loan,” the Philadelphia Museum of Art is eager to have the piece arrive at the end of this month.
“It just adds to the history of the city,” said Ken Derstine. “His brother lived in Philadelphia so it is kind of a continuation of that.”
And the timing could not be more perfect as the Rodin Centennial, commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the artist’s death, is set for November.
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