Hungary's central bank just spent $16 million on a painting

Madonna and Child with St. PaulWikimedia Commons‘Madonna and Child and Saint Paul’ was purchased by The National Bank of Hungary for 4.5 billion forints ($US15.8 million).

Why focus on interest rates when you could be buying Renaissance art?

On Thursday, The National Bank of Hungary announced on its website that it had purchased a work by the 16th century painter Titian, one of the most influential artists from the Venetian school.

The work depicting “Madonna and Child and Saint Paul” was purchased for 4.5 billion forints ($US15.8 million) from an undisclosed Hungarian collector.

Since January 2014, the central bank has purchased 7.8 billion forints ($US27.4 million) worth of art under an art buyback depository program. The program was launched with 30 billion forints ($US105.5 million) in funding with the goal of purchasing major artwork that was either once Hungarian-owned or currently Hungarian-owned, in order to keep the treasures in the country.

“The painting is among the most significant works of art unearthed in Hungary in the last half-century,” the bank said in a statement. They added that their art buyback program puts The National Bank of Hungary among the top central banks committed to the protection of cultural heritage.

Other items recently purchased by the bank include a collection of centuries-old silver coins from Transylvania and works by Hungarian painters Mihály Munkácsy and Desiderius Orban.

But the central bank hasn’t stopped at art.

“As well as the art-buying program, the central bank has put its financial gains to use by setting aside 200 billion forints for an education program, and purchasing several pieces of real estate, including a four-star hotel in an 18th century palatial residence in the countryside,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

All of these purchases were made with the bank’s profits and not taxpayer dollars.

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