Call it a second coming: a wax figure of Christ by Salvador Dalí, long considered lost, has returned to art lovers.
The sculpture was discovered by a commercial gallery in Hawaii and displayed today, the surrealist’s 118th birthday.
The book, called Lost wax, was found in the private collection of an American collector, according to Harte International Galleries in Maui. Remarkably, it was still in the original Plexiglas box Dalí had used to preserve its shape.
The wax sculpture was created in 1979 and served as the model for bronze, gold, platinum and silver editions of Dalí’s bas-relief sculptures. Christ of Saint John of the Cross. The series is a three-dimensional translation of a 1951 painting by the artist of the same name, which imagines Jesus on the cross floating in the twilight sky. Given the challenges of preserving the wax, few expected the original mold to have survived.
In fact, it had been in the unnamed collector’s vault for four decades. Harte’s co-owners, Glenn and Devon Harte, had contacted the collector to purchase an art book from him. The couple realized they owned the rare original Dalí and acquired it for an undisclosed sum.
“Harte International Galleries has sold a number of bas-relief sculptures of ‘Christ of St. John of the Cross’ throughout our history, but no one thought the original work – made by Dalí in wax – existed Again”, Glenn Harte said in a statement.
The gallery worked with Dalí specialist Nicolas Descharnes to authenticate the sculpture. Descharnes, the son of Robert Descharnes, who was Salvador Dalí’s secretary, is one of the world’s foremost specialists on the artist. In 2019, he notably authenticated a hitherto unknown painting Dalí from 1932, kept in a private collection for more than 75 years. In the case of Lost waxhe collaborated with iconographic expert Carlos Evaristo to confirm its authenticity.
The sculpture is now valued by the gallery between 10 and 20 million dollars, a staggering sum for a wax casting. It is exhibited in the gallery.