HONOLULU (KHON2) — A private art collector has been keeping the long-lost wax sculpture by the late Salvador Dalí in a vault for more than 40 years. The sculpture was created in 1979 and was used as the model for an edition of the bas-reliefs entitled “Christ of St. John of the Cross.

It was long thought to be lost in the reproduction process until the work was found to be privately stored in the original plexiglass box that Dalí had used to hold the work while creating it. Now, it’s in the hands of the owners of Harte International Galleries in Lahaina, Maui.

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The announcement on Wednesday also lands on the day the surrealist artist was born.

“Harte International Galleries has sold a number of the ‘Christ of St. John of the Cross’ bas-relief sculptures throughout our history, but no one thought the original work — done by senior Dalí in wax — still existed,” Glenn Harte, co-owner of Harte International Galleries, said in a statement.

According to the gallery, the preservation of the original wax sculpture used to create platinum, gold, silver and bronze bas-relief sculptures is incredibly challenging. It’s the reason why most thought the original wax — created by Dalí’s own hands — was lost in the process.

The “Lost Wax” on display at Harte International Galleries.
(Courtesy: Harte International Galleries)

Harte told KHON2 that this amazing work deserves to be studied and shared.

“Its discovery brings attention to the bas-relief sculptures that were created from this original wax and now for the first time, experts may take an interest in the intent of Dalí’s creation. This is the dream of all collectors to be a part of a discovery like this and we cannot be more excited. We are in the process of planning how we will be sharing it with the public and would welcome any interest to show the work in a public venue.”

Glenn Harte, co-owner of Harte International Galleries

The “Lost Wax” is valued between $10 million to $20 million.

Harte International Galleries owners said they worked with Nicolas Descharnes to authenticate the sculpture — he’s the most recognized Dalí expert and final authority for many of the top auction houses. Descharnes’ father served as Dalí’s secretary until his death, and the family has worked for decades protecting the artist’s legacy from forgeries and fakes.

Located in Tours, France, Descharnes worked with world-renowned iconographic expert Carlos Evaristo for the authentication of the long-unseen sculpture.

Harte International Galleries plans to share the “Lost Wax” with the public and is exploring the idea of collaborating with national and international museums to host temporary exhibits as early as June.

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Harte International Galleries is a fine art gallery specializing in rare, museum-quality masterworks. Visitors can see works by Dalí, Picasso, Chagall, Miro, Matisse, Rembrandt and Albrecht Durer.