MADISON, NEW JERSEY – A bust of Napoleon by French sculptor Auguste Rodin long thought to be lost was 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 Record reported .
The authentication was made in person by Jerome Le Blay, an international expert in modern sculpture.
Philanthropist Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge purchased the sculpture after it was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1915 to 1929. Officials believe Dodge donated the bust along with other art to the borough hall around 1942. There, the bust sat for decades as its record was lost to time.
Madison Mayor Robert Conley was impressed by the news that confirmed town rumors.
“I’d always heard the rumor it was a Rodin, but of course you hear all sorts of rumors. So to have it actually verified was quite impressive,” Conley said. “To think that we’ve had people walking past it for years, not realizing the great piece of art they were sitting next to, or standing next to during a council meeting.”
The sculpture is estimated to be worth between $4 million to $12 million, according to experts.
Hartley Dodge Foundation President Nicholas Platt isn’t sure when the Rodin will return to its home in the borough hall. The Met has expressed interest in the bust, according to Platt.
Conley is happy with plans for the borough’s piece of history.
“Art is meant to be appreciated, and the more it can be appreciated the better,” Conley said.