US-based Hungarian art collector Imre Pákh has decided to have “Golgotha”, the third piece of the famous painter Miháky Munkácsy’s Christ Trilogy in his ownership, removed from the Déri Museum in Debrecen, having been unable to reach an agreement with the National Bank of Hungary on its price.
The central bank had previously offered him USD 6 million for the monumental painting, which the seller is only prepared to hand over for USD 9 million. Speaking to the Hungarian state news agency MTI on Sunday, Mr. Pákh said that negotiations on the fate of the picture have come to a halt and he will have it removed from the museum on 25 June, however, “if provided that the opinion of the National Bank or its deputy governor Ferenc Gerhardt changes until then or another state body or institutions shows interest towards the picture, I am at their disposal”, he said.
The collector purchased “Golgotha” over a decade ago to enable the iconic trilogy to remain intact. At the time, he agreed with leading Hungarian politicians to find a swift solution for the artwork to be purchased by the Hungarian state. He has now denied claims by the National Bank’s deputy head that according to estimates, he paid around USD 1 million for the picture. “In reality, I paid several times that sum”, he insisted.
The picture’s value has been estimated at around USD 10 million by both Chirstie’s and Sotheby’s, the world’s two most reputable auction houses. However, experts commissioned by the National Bank established a price interval which is binding to the central bank’s leadership and implies that the state cannot pay more than USD 6 million for the picture.
“Christ Before Pilate”, the trilogy’s other piece recently acquired by Hungary from Canada, was purchased for USD 5.7 million, which, according to Mr. Gerhardt, is the realistic price for the picture.