Hungarian-born American art collector Imre Pakh said he had no intention of selling Golgotha, a monumental painting by the Hungarian 19th century master Mihály Munkácsy that the state of Hungary has eyed for years, in an interview published by daily Magyar Idők on Thursday.
Golgotha will be on “permanent display” at the Déri Museum in Debrecen, in eastern Hungary, Pakh told the paper, in light of a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, the Kúria, concerning the listing of the painting.
“With the knowledge of the Kúria’s decision, I removed the curtain [concealing the painting from public view] and have no intention of putting it back, for the time being, as the court has affirmed, entirely or in part, our position,” Pakh told the paper.
Pakh appealed the listing which prohibited the removal of the work from Hungary and gave the state pre-emption rights for its purchase. State authorities listed Golgotha, part of Munkácsy’s Christ Trilogy, shortly after Pakh said the painting would be removed from the Déri Museum, where it is on loan, displayed with its state-owned counterparts Ecce Homo! and Christ Before Pilate.
The National Bank of Hungary had earlier offered to buy the painting for the state, but Pakh had refused the asking price.
Pakh told Magyar Idők that although he had no plans to sell Golgotha, this did not prevent any potential buyers from making offers for it.
“Golgotha is an extraordinary painting which attracts rich collectors if it leaves Debrecen and is displayed in Budapest or Vienna, for example. Potential buyers immediately make an offer for what they see with their own eyes,” he said.
“Golgotha has its place in Debrecen, as part of the Munkácsy Trilogy,” Pakh told the paper, pointing out that he had purchased the painting exactly for the reason to prevent that its previous owner could sell it to an American art collector. He bought the painting in 2003.