A long-lost wax sculpture by Salvador Dalí, depicting the crucified Christ, has resurfaced after being kept in a private collector’s vault for over 40 years. The connoisseur had bought the sculpture directly from Dalí in 1978. It has since been named the “Lost Wax” and has been estimated to be worth between $10 million and $20 million by Harte International Galleries, who bought the piece for an undisclosed sum from the anonymous collector.
The piece is the original wax sculpture created by Dalí with his own hands to cast platinum, gold, silver, and bronze versions of the bas-relief sculptures entitled Christ of St. John of the Cross. The sculpture is a three-dimensional interpretation of the artist’s famous 1951 painting of the same name. An estimated 900 casts of the bas-relief exist, ranging in value between $15,000 and $20,000.
Salvador Dalí’s The Lost Wax (left) and a Christ of St. John of the Cross bronze (right).
PHOTO: COURTESY OF HARTE INTERNATIONAL GALLERIES
The sculpture was discovered by chance, during negotiations for the purchase of an art book owned by the anonymous collector. After the gallery co-owners Glenn and Devon Harte realised that the collector also possessed an original work by Dalí, they acquired it for an undisclosed sum. The discovery of the original is remarkable, as preserving original waxes can be very challenging. It is only thanks to the underground storage in the original plexiglass that it survived all those years.
It is currently on display in Harte International Galleries in Maui, but Glenn Harte would like to see it go to a collection where it can be appreciated by people who are passionate about the subject, such as the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, and the Louvre Abu Dhabi, among other institutions.
According to Harte, there is a correlation between the molded wax sculpture and the 1951 painting. Both works are among the most important examples of Dalí’s religious works that reflect his return to Catholicism in 1948. The authenticity of the wax sculpture has been confirmed by the renowned Dalí expert Nicolas Descharnes, whose father acted as Dalí’s private secretary until his death.