(Sofia) Bulgaria is investigating after the discovery of a potential unknown painting by the American abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock, an enigmatic affair that has kept the country in suspense for two days.

She bears a dedication to Hollywood star Lauren Bacall, a friend of the painter, for her 25th birthday on September 16, 1949, according to the prosecution.

Another disturbing element: the signature of the former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu appears on the back of the painting, suggesting that it was part of his art collection, assured the government on Thursday.

The canvas, discovered in a Sofia apartment last month, is signed by the artist, but is not listed in art catalogs.

It was apparently kept in Greece for many years before being smuggled into Bulgaria for the purpose of being sold abroad.

Interior Minister Ivan Demerdjiev, interviewed on Thursday on the bTV television channel, spoke of “almost certain authenticity”.

According to the opinion of experts quoted by the prosecution, the painting “responds by its style, its technique and its artistic specificity to the aesthetic particularities of the work of Jackson Pollock during the period 1945-1950”.

An analysis of the chemical composition of the colors – an intertwining of red and black strokes on a gold background – revealed similarities to other canvases, Deputy Prosecutor Sofia Desislava Petrova said, while urging caution.

“Hundreds of painters of that time, as well as forgers used these colors,” Vessela Radoeva, from the National Gallery of Fine Arts, told AFP.

“We gave our opinion, but without commenting on the authenticity because it is not in Bulgaria, where there is no public collection of the painter, that specialists can pronounce definitively”, she said. precise.

If it really was a work by Pollock, it could be worth up to $100 million, depending on the current price of the artist born in 1912 and died in 1956, authorities have claimed, claiming to this stage the property of the painting.

The Greek police and Europol, which took part in the operation which made it possible to seize the work, did not wish to give details.