A painting long thought lost has been found thanks to… children’s movie “Little Mouse” (Stewart Little) of 1999!

Watching the film Stewart Little in 2009, Hungarian art historian Gergely Barky saw the painting. It had been missing for 90 years, and had been used as a… movie set. It was the original.

The Sleeping Lady with a Black Vase is a 1927-1928 oil painting by Robert Bereni. It depicts the painter’s wife in a blue dress sleeping behind a table on which a black vase is placed. The painting was sold in 1928, and after World War II it was considered lost.

The painting may have disappeared in the 1920s, but Barkey recognized it immediately, even though he had only seen a faded black-and-white photograph of it from a 1928 exhibition.

She sent a series of emails to staff at the film’s studios, Sony Pictures and Columbia Pictures, and received a reply from a former set designer on the film – two years later.

“She said the picture was hanging on her wall,” Barkey said.

“She had bought it almost for scraps at an antique shop in Pasadena, California, thinking its avant garde elegance was perfect for Stuart Little’s living room.”

The painting sold for $40 at a charity auction at the St Vincent de Paul auction house in San Diego in the mid-1990s to art collector Michael Hempstead. He sold it to an antique shop in Pasadena for $400. The painting was purchased from the store by the set designer, on behalf of Sony Pictures, for $500.

The painting was sold on 13 December 2014 to an unnamed Hungarian collector for $285,700. Due to the publicity generated by its unusual rediscovery, it has been described as the most widely known Hungarian painting.

For the story the children’s film starred Michael J. Fox, Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie and Nathan Lane.