The responder was a set designer, who used to have the picture "hanging on her wall."
"She had snapped it up for next-to-nothing in an antiques shop in Pasadena, California, thinking its avant-garde elegance was perfect for Stuart Little's living room," Barki said.
After the set designer moved on from Sony, she sold it to a private collector, who has returned "Sleeping Lady With A Black Vase" to Budapest for a Dec. 13 auction, where it is expected to fetch around 110,000 euros ($137,350).
Robert Bereny was at the forefront of the early 20th century "Group of Eights" avant-garde movement. In 1920, he fled to Berlin after designing posters for Hungary's short-lived 1919 communist revolution, where he had a romance with actress Marlene Dietrich and, according to rumours, a fling with Russia's Tsar Nicholas II's mysterious daughter, Anastasia.
Barki said it is believed the 1928 buyer of the painting left Hungary for the United States in the run-up to World War II.
"After the wars, revolutions, and tumult of the 20th century many Hungarian masterpieces are lost, scattered around the world," he told AFP.