Museo del Prado Finds Over €1 Million in Swiss Bank Account

The Museo Nacional del Prado.
Photo: Museo Nacional del Prado.
Museo del Prado in Madrid Photo: Brian Snelson via WikimediaCommons

Museo del Prado in Madrid
Photo: Brian Snelson via Wikimedia Commons


Madrid’s Museo Nacional del Prado may be missing a boat load of art, but it’s also found quite the pile of cash. According to a report in Germany’s FAZ, the institution has discovered a previously unknown Swiss bank account containing over €1 million, which is part of a fortune bequeathed to it in 1991.

The account belonged to Manuel Villaescusa Ferrero, a lawyer and real estate mogul who bequeathed the entirety of his €42 million ($56 million) fortune to the Prado to be used for new acquisitions. The substantial gift has already been used to purchase works by El Greco, Georges de La Tour, Sánchez Cotán, Juan van der Hamen y Léon and Goya.

After using up the benefactor’s money the Spanish state had to step in to subsidize the acquisition of Goya’s Condensa de Chinchón (1800). That prompted the cash-strapped government to order the Prado to search for foreign accounts belonging to Villaescusa. In November 2013 auditors discovered the patron’s Swiss bank account. Since then other assets belonging to Villaescusa including several buildings in Madrid have been discovered and handed over to the Museum.

As artnet news and various other news outlets reported, the Prado is currently missing over 800 artworks. They subsequently endeavored to downplay the significance of the missing works, explaining that they were lost decades ago and were largely missing due to oversight by the Museo de la Trinidad and the now-defunct Museo de Arte Moderno. The museum has announced it plans to systematically review 1500 works in 130 institutions by 2016 to search for the missing artworks.

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