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Sketches of The Little Prince , made by its author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry , were discovered in an old building in northern Switzerland, where they had been stored by a real estate mogul among tens of thousands of works of art.
Acquired more than 30 years ago at an auction in Switzerland, the sketches were kept inside a cardboard folder and "are in very good condition," according to Elisabeth Grossmann, curator of the Winterthour Foundation for Art, Culture and History (Canton of Zurich).
"On the other hand, many of the other works are in poor condition," he added, and said the collection was deposited in several places in the city.
The folder contained three drawings linked to The Little Prince - the drinker on his planet, the boa that digests an elephant accompanied by handwritten notes, and the little prince and the fox - as well as an illustrated poem with a small drawing and a love letter addressed to his wife, Consuelo.
As the local newspaper Landbote revealed on Thursday, the sketches, which are not dated , were made on airmail paper with Chinese ink and watercolor.
The Zurich collector Bruno Stefanini, who died in December 2018 at age 94, had bought them at an auction in 1986 in Bevaix (west).
Owner of one of the largest art collections in Switzerland, Stefanini created in 1980 this Foundation in Winterthour to manage his heritage.
The Little Prince , written in New York by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry during the war and illustrated with his own watercolors, was published in 1943 in New York, and then in 1946 in France, after the death of the aviator, on July 31, 1944 , off the coast of Marseille (southern France).
The writer lived two years in Switzerland, from 1915 to 1917, in a religious institution in Friborg (center).
The original illustrations of his book are kept in the Morgan Library in New York.
Conservative Elisabeth Grossmann told the Landbote newspaper that the Foundation would contact the Morgan Library to inform them of this "finding."
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