The Hungarian government has purchased 19th-century painter Mihaly Munkacsy’s monumental piece Golgotha, the head of the Prime Minister’s Office said on Wednesday.
The government paid Hungarian-born American art collector Imre Pákh 3 billion forints (EUR 9.3m) for the painting, Gergely Gulyás told a press conference.
The purchase means that all three pieces of Munkácsy’s famous “Christ Trilogy” are now owned by the Hungarian state.
The state had owned Ecce Homo! (1896), the third painting in the trilogy, for years and acquired Christ Before Pilate (1881), another of the three, from Canada’s Art Gallery of Hamilton for 5.7 million US dollars in 2015, with funding from the National Bank of Hungary’s programme to buy national art treasures.
In 2015, talks between the Hungarian government and Pákh on the possible sale of Golgotha to the state fell through and Pákh signalled he was ready to have the painting removed from Debrecen’s Déri Museum.
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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. Pákh in response ordered the painting to be veiled from public view.
In 2016, the Hungarian heritage authority decided to give Golgotha protected status. Pákh appealed the decision, but his claim was rejected.
The following year, the Kúria, Hungary’s supreme court, ordered a retrial in the case.
Last year, the government and Pákh entered into negotiations on the painting’s purchase.
featured photo by Zsolt Czeglédi/MTI