A painting stolen over 20 years ago in a brazen heist at an art gallery in northern Italy has apparently been accidentally recovered after a worker clearing ivy from the building stumbled across it hidden in the walls.
Gustav Klimt’s ‘Portrait of a Lady’ was stolen from the Ricci-Oddi gallery in Piacenza in February 1997, with its frame found discarded on the roof. Police believed the frame was thrown there in a poor attempt to make it look like the thieves broke in through a skylight, even though in reality the painting was too big to be pulled through that window.
The worker said he was removing ivy when he came across an unexpected metal panel, and pulled it aside to discover the purloined painting stashed there, inside a black bag.
Over the years, a number of copies and detailed forgeries of the missing work have surfaced.
Police are investigating the find and the painting has yet to be officially authenticated as the true missing piece, but the gallery’s director says the artwork bears the same stamps and seals on the back as the original, making him confident that the Klimt has been recovered. Also on rt.com ‘Epstein didn’t kill himself’: Miami gallery scrambles to cover message scrawled in lipstick after banana art devoured
Wires that were part of the alarm system at the time have also been found still embedded in the back of the piece, local outlets report.
It’s not clear if the painting has been within the wall the entire time, or if it was moved back there more recently.
The painting is of particular artistic and historical value given it also contains a secret Klimt portrait beneath the visible one, making it the only known ‘double Klimt’ in the world. The artist is believed to have painted the original portrait, also of a woman, around 1916 before covering over it shortly afterwards with a new image.
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