Bulgarian authorities are investigating a painting seized by police that could be a little-known work by the American abstract artist Jackson Pollock, agencies reported.
Clues indicate the roughly six-foot-tall painting may have been a gift to Hollywood star Lauren Bacall — and could have been held in the extensive private collection of Romania’s former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
The painting was found in an apartment in Sofia in a raid in February carried out in cooperation with the Greek police and overseen by Europol.
It had been held in Greece for several years before being smuggled into Bulgaria, where a painter had intended to sell it further abroad, Bulgarian Interior Minister Ivan Demerdzhiev said.
„The most qualified experts in Bulgaria examined the painting and assured us that its authenticity is almost certain,” Demerdzhiev told bTV television.
The work, a skein dominated by reds and black against a golden backdrop, is not listed in Pollock catalogues but is signed by the artist.
On the back is a handwritten note that reads: „Dedicated to my dear and very talented friend Lauren Bacall, Happy Birthday, September 16, 1949,” according to Sofia City Prosecution spokeswoman Desislava Petrova.
Also on the back is the signature of Ceausescu and a seal indicating it belonged to the dictator toppled in a coup in December 1989, Petrova said.
National Gallery spokeswoman Vesela Radoeva told AFP that they could not vouch for the painting’s authenticity, saying they were not specialized in Pollock’s works.
Greek police and Europol declined to give further details when contacted by AFP.