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Jackson Pollock mystery painting with hidden message to Lauren Bacall found in Bulgaria

Jackson Pollock mystery painting with hidden message to Lauren Bacall found in Bulgaria


A previously unknown painting by abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock was seized during an organized crime raid in Sofia, Bulgaria, officials said this week. The painting dates from 1949 and could be worth up to 50m, according to experts quoted by Bulgarian national radio. Authorities have not released a description or photograph of the work.

The painting was discovered during a joint operation between Bulgarian and Greek anti-organized crime forces coordinated by Europol, according to BNR. Sister raids also took place in Athens and on the island of Crete. Three Greek citizens and one Bulgarian citizen were arrested during the operation. Five additional paintings by what the BNR described as prominent artists were discovered during the stings.

Pollock’s alleged painting was handed over to specialists from the National Art Gallery of Bulgaria, according to the Bulgarian Press Agency News. On the back of the canvas is a dedication to the American actress Lauren Bacal which appears to have been written by Pollock himself, Deputy Sofia City Prosecutor Desislava Petrova said at a press conference on Wednesday, March 22, according to the BTAthe National Bulgarian News Agency.

“Dedicated to my very talented and dear friend Lauren Bacall, happy birthday,” the inscription on the back of the painting would have read. The message is dated September 16, 1949, which was Bacall’s 25th birthday, prosecutors said. Bacall was a noted art collector and items from her art and jewelry collection sold for a collective $3.6 million at Bonhams New York in 2015 after his death the previous year. No paintings by Pollock were included in the sale.

The prosecutor’s office said the painting was never cataloged and was not registered as missing, according to the BTA.

The most valuable Pollock painting ever sold at auction, Number 17, 1951 (1951), fetched $53 million ($61.2 million with fees) at the first of two court-ordered auctions of Linda and Harry Macklowes’ art collection in November 2021. last May, Pollocks Number 31 (1949) completed the same year as the purported Pollock found in Bulgaria sold at Christies New York for $47 million ($54.2 million with fees).




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