Gustav Klimt’s painting, which was thought to have been stolen, was found in its original gallery walls in 22 years.
“Police said Tuesday Gustav Klimt's ‘Portrait of a Lady,’ stolen from Piacenza's Ricci Oddi Modern Art Gallery in 1997, may have been recovered,” said Italian English news media ANSA.
According to The Telegraph, a gardener clearing ivy from Ricci-Oddi modern art gallery in the northern city of Piacenza noticed a metal panel in the wall on Tuesday. He pried it open to peer inside the nook between the external and internal gallery walls, which is where he found a black sack. “At first I thought it was trash,” the gardener said. “At first glance, based on the wax seals and stamps we saw on the back of the canvas, it appears to be the original,” said Gallery Vice President Laura Bonfanti. “It would be the best Christmas present ever,” he added. If the painting turns out to be the original, it is estimated to worth 60 million euros.
An official of the Piacenza cultural advisory committee said the committee is not excluding the possibility that it may have been stolen and later returned. “The gallery and garden were thoroughly searched right after the painting was stolen,” the official said. “What’s strange about the newly found painting is that it is in superb condition. It doesn’t look like it has been stashed between the walls for 22 years.”
“Portrait of a Lady” garnered attention in 1996, about 10 months before its disappearance, as it is the only painting of Klimt that he painted on top of another painting. The X-ray showed it was painted over “Portrait of a Young Lady,” which was thought to have been stolen in 1912.
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