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Hungarian central bank buys Titian painting for HUF 4.5 bln

The National Bank of Hungary (MNB) reportedly purchased a Titian painting for HUF 4.5 bln as part of its program to acquire national art treasures, the bank said on its website yesterday, according to Hungarian news agency MTI.

Madonna and Child and St. Paul, by Titian.

"Madonna and Child and St. Paul", earlier attributed to an unidentified early 16th century Italian master, had hung in a private home in Pécs, southwestern Hungary, before being auctioned off in 2005. It was bought by entrepreneur Gyula Pintér, who lent it to the Hungarian Museum of Fine Arts.

On its website, the central bank said that "in terms of its artistic value, this work is the greatest of art treasures re-discovered in Hungary in the past 50 years".

With its "Depositary Program", the central bank is looking to recover major artworks exported from Hungary and to buy treasures locally to keep them in the country, the website said. It added that the program has a budget of HUF 30 bln until the end of 2018.

The bank has so far spent HUF 7.8 bln to buy artworks including Mihály Munkácsyʼs painting "Christ before Pilate" (HUF 1.6 bln) and a collection of rare silver coins minted in Transylvania in the 14th-17th centuries (HUF 1.1 bln), the website said.