A stolen Gustav Klimt painting was found in the surprising place, The Local Italy reported. The «Portrait of a Lady» was stashed inside a wall at an Italian museum two decades after it went missing.
The painting discovered last month by gardeners inside an external wall at the Ricci Oddi Gallery of Modern Art in Piacenza. The century-old Expressionist masterpiece’s worth could be worth between 60 and 100 million euros, according to the experts.
Prosecutor Ornella Chicca told reporters about the lucky discovery. Meanwhile, museum officials had initially said they could not immediately determine whether the painting was indeed the stolen Austrian painter work until scientific tests were performed.
Painted in 1916-1917, the «Portrait of a Lady» depicts the face and torso of a young woman with brown hair, over an emerald green background. According to the museum, the Expressionist painting went missing in February 1997 while the museum was closed for work.
In December, gardeners removing ivy from a wall found a small ventilation space inside of which they discovered the stolen Klimt work. The painting had no frame, it was just wrapped in a black garbage bag. The ivy covering the space had not been cut back for at least one decade.
As Prosecutor Ornella Chicca said, further tests would determine whether the painting had been lingering inside the wall space ever since it was stolen, or whether it had been hidden there later.
Once those tests were complete, Klimt’s «Portrait of a Lady» will hopefully be returned to the gallery’s walls, Chicca promised.
According to the art expert Guido Cauzzi who studied the work under infrared and UV-light, comparing images to those taken during tests performed in 1996, it is undoubtedly Klimt’s work.
«The correspondence between the images allowed us to determine that it’s definitely the original painting,» Cauzzi said and added with the satisfaction that the condition of the painting was «relatively good».
«It’s gone through a few ordeals, but only needs some routine care, nothing particularly complicated,» Cauzzi added.