Long-lost Rodin sculpture found in Madison Borough Hall

Posted: Updated:

A bust of Napoleon by French sculptor Auguste Rodin long thought to be lost has been found on display in a Morris County 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. 

Mallory Mortillaro says that she was hired by Madison Borough a few years ago to catalogue the artwork in the borough hall after it was collected following a renovation. She says that something on the Napoleon bust caught her eye.

"It did have a signature that said Auguste Rodin,” she says.

Mortillaro says that she decided to research the sculpture further but wasn’t taken seriously.

“I was first kind of told, ‘There’s a lot of people who think they have a Rodin’ and whatnot. I sent a picture and Jerome Le Blay got back to me very quickly,” she says.

Le Blay is an international expert in modern sculpture and he authenticated the sculpture in person. 

"As soon as he walked in, he knew,” Mortillaro says.

The sculpture has since been under strict protections, and it will soon be loaned to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

"Just another confirmation of what a special building this is,” says Madison Mayor Robert Conley. “As people come into this building, it's the most beautiful town hall in, if not the state, the country."

The public will get a chance to view the sculpture before it heads out. Art enthusiasts can see it from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Oct. 21 and from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Oct. 22.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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