A bust of Napoleon by French sculptor Auguste Rodin long thought to be lost has been found on display in a New Jersey borough hall where it sat for 85 years.
The bust's origin was confirmed in 2015, but officials waited to reveal the multimillion dollar artwork was a long-lost piece by Rodin on Wednesday. The owners of the bust announced it will be leaving the Madison borough hall on loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The authentication was made in person by Jerome Le Blay, an international expert in modern sculpture.
“He walked in and saw the piece, and he knew right away,” art historian and Drew University grad student Mallory Mortillaro said, who flew in Le Blay from Paris. "He knew that it was real and it was the piece we had lost track of since the 1930s."
She added, "At first I was skeptical, I thought, 'This can't be a real Rodin just sitting here.'"
Madison's Mayor Robert Conley says he had always heard rumors that the bust was a Rodin work, but having it verified was impressive.
“I did have someone suggest that we should sell it off and use the money to reduce taxes, but it’s a piece of art for Madison,” said Conley.