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10th January, 2019

State buys Golgotha painting

The vicissitudes of the Mihály Munkácsy painting Golgotha are over, as American-Hungarian art collector Imre Pákh has agreed to sell it to the government for Ft 3 billion.

Prime Minister’s Office leader Gergely Gulyás announced the deal in Parliament’s Munkácsy Hall on Wednesday during a break in the cabinet meeting.

Speaking alongside former Debrecen mayor Lajos Kósa and current mayor László Papp, Gulyás said some see Golgotha as a composition comparable to Rembrandt’s Night Watch.

The work will be displayed in the Déri Museum in Debrecen, alongside the two other pieces of the Christ trilogy to which it belongs.

The others are Christ Before Pilate, sold by Canada’s Art Gallery of Hamilton to the MNB for $6 million in 2015, and Ecce Homo, owned by the Déri Museum.

Munkácsy himself never saw the three paintings side-by-side.

Pákh shipped his painting to Hungary on loan to the state to allow the trilogy to be seen together, initially in 1995.

When the government expressed interest in buying the painting, Pákh asked $9 million but the MNB offered $6 million.

When he announced that he was going to take Golgotha from the Debrecen gallery in June, 2015, the national heritage protection centre declared the painting protected, preventing Pákh from taking it out of the country.

The Capital Public Administration and Labour Court ruled in favour of Pákh last May 24, striking down the public administrative ruling that declared Golgotha protected. The court stated that politicians had wanted to prevent Pákh from being able to sell the painting to anybody.

Sources regularly consulted, with abbreviations used in text: Népszabadság (N); Magyar Hírlap (MH); Világgazdaság (VG); Napi Gazdaság (NG); Magyar Nemzet (MN); Népszava (Nsz); Kossuth Rádió news (KR); nightly TV news (TV).

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