NEW YORK — Suspected to have been left there and forgotten many years ago, a Long Island couple discovered a painting worth millions of dollars on Thursday hidden inside a local museum tucked away in the city’s Midtown neighborhood.
“I didn’t think it was anything of value. I thought it was just some old poster,” said Jon Estrada, 34, adding that he and his wife, Jasmine, had noticed the so-called Museum of Modern Art just sitting there but never bothered inspecting it.
The Estradas said they only discovered the true contents of the Museum of Modern Art when they decided to use an old membership pass lying around to try to get inside it. Inside they found a painting, ultimately determined to be the work of Belgian surrealist René Magritte.
“I found it by chance stuck between a wall and The Dreamer by Pablo Picasso,” said Estrada. “It was only when I saw this hard-to-read plaque, which said it belonged to the Pierre and Maria-Gaetana Matisse Collection, that made me think, hey, this might be worth something. To be told it was worth millions, I thought, really? That old thing?”
Charles Lowenberg, a restoration expert, estimated the painting would be worth at most $300. But when he investigated the fifth floor of the Museum of Modern Art, inside an exhibit from the 1930s, what he found was the discovery of a lifetime.
“As a kid you dream of being the first to discover something valuable hidden inside some rinky-dink museum,” said Lowenberg. “I’m just honored to be here when it happened.”
Lowenberg speculated that the work was hidden away by some unknown art aficionado.
At press time, Estrada said he and his wife also discovered hidden inside MOMA some photo collages, miniatures, and found objects, but they were mostly worthless.
Ricardo Angulo once discovered a book easily worth millions on the Wikipedia entry for most expensive books.
Image by rverc