• Van Weyenbergh Fine Art

Klimt painting stolen 22 years ago, reappears.

For the Italian press, it is the second most sought after work in the world; it is estimated 60 million euros. Portrait of a Lady is an oil on canvas of 60 x 55 cm, part of a series of portraits of women by Gustav Klimt between 1916 and 1918.

On February 17, 1997 the painting disappears from the Galerie Ricci Oddi, in Plaisance where it was kept. Police can not tell if the thief has gone through the main entrance or the roof. The frame was indeed found not far from a skylight. In 2016 new DNA tests are done to try to make "talk" the partial fingerprint. Without success. The wildest assumptions circulate about the motive of theft: from its use for satanic rites to the will of the former president of the council Bettino Craxi, then in exile in Tunisia, to have it in his "ghostly treasure" .

The epilogue of this case could well be given by chance and not technology. Last Tuesday, a gardener of the gallery performing a work of clearing discovered a cavity closed by a piece of sheet metal and covered with ivy. Inside, a box containing a black bag he thinks contains waste that he is about to throw. By opening the bag, he finds the canvas in a perfect state of preservation.

"Seals and sealing wax on the back of the painting is original," confirms Massimo Ferrari, director of the Gallery Ricci Oddi. He announces in-depth expertise as soon as possible for the authentication. Shortly before the disappearance, researcher Claudia Maga had identified another portrait under the portrait. That of a woman with a hat exposed in Dresden in 1912 who had subsequently disappeared. Klimt had, in fact, covered it by that of the woman with black hair and purple lips that has just been found.

The commander of the carabinieri for the protection of the cultural heritage took up the case. "However, we must remain cautious, believes General Roberto Riccardi. Countless copies of this painting have been made since 1997. It can not be ruled out that the painting has always remained there. The thief may have had remorse, or he could not sell it again. " Le Journal des Arts.



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