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Museo del Prado releases statement related to the 885 works reported missing
File photo of Room 56B at the Museo del Prado. The Annunciation, Fra Angelico.

MADRID.- In relation to the news item recently published in El País newspaper with the headline “The Museo del Prado unaware of the location of 885 works”, and in response to the queries and questions which the Museum has subsequently received from other media, the Museo del Prado would like to clarify that the information published in El País has been known for more than 30 years. The only new element presented in the audit undertaken by the Tribunal de Cuentas in 2012 is the that fact 41 works have been located, the whereabouts of which had been unknown since 1978 when the first report by the Fiscalía General de Reino was published on the situation of works from the collection of the Museo del Prado on deposit with other institutions. The Tribunal de Cuentas’s recent recommendation to continue looking for the works in question has in fact been repeated in all audits undertaken since 1978.

Most of the missing works were added to the Prado’s inventories at the time when the collections of the now defunct Museo de la Trinidad were added to those of the Museum in 1872. Many of the works from the Museo de la Trinidad were dispersed from that date onwards without ever actually entering the Prado’s collections. In addition to that significant number of works, the location of which is not known for the above reason, the report also identified a second large, unlocated group. These are works that were sent on long-term deposit (temporary or indefinite) to other institutions from the now defunct Museo de Arte Moderno, the collections of which were added to those of the Prado in 1971. In this case, many of the works never entered the Prado as they were on long-term deposit with other institutions, nor was there even a complete inventory of the Museum’s holdings.

The present situation of the Museum’s works on deposit
After more than three decades of ongoing work by successive directors, deputy directors, curatorial departments, the registrar’s office and the Museum’s departments of documentation and restoration, it can be stated that the 3,310 works on deposit with 278 institutions are all fully monitored (despite the enormous complexity involved in their administration and supervision), while the recipient institutions are required to fulfil guarantees regarding their security and preservation. In addition, and with regard to the same time-frame, works not located following a comparison of the old inventories with the systematic checks on these deposits, have gone down in number from the 1,425 noted in the above-mentioned audit of 1978 to 885 in the present day (748 of which relate to the addition of the holdings of the defunct Museo de la Trinidad in 1872 and the Museo de Arte Moderno in 1971, as noted above). The Museum has maintained the policy of not deleting any work from its inventories without certain knowledge of its destruction or permanent disappearance.

From 1980 to the present the Museum’s Bulletin, and since 2002 its Annual Report (both available on its website) have recorded the intensive activity undertaken by the “Prado disperso”, as its deposit scheme is known, to provide detailed information on all inspections, restoration work, surveys, new deposits and re-locations carried out, and also on new information regarding the rediscovery of the location of some of the missing works. This activity has been acknowledged and we continue to trust in the work of the Museum’s experts and in the seriousness of the institutions with which works from the collection are on deposit in order to guarantee the highest standards of conservation and availability of information on these works.

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