Some find rooms on their pillows; others find $ 66 million worth of paintings on the wall.
This Friday, officials from the Italian city of Piacenza authenticated a discovery made last December by gardeners at the Ricci Oddi Gallery of Modern Art. The painting found inside a black garbage bag and hidden inside an external wall is, in fact, Portrait of a Lady by Gustav Klimt, missing since 1997. The gardeners were cleaning the ivy when they found a small access door and opened it . .
The Austrian painter, who died in 1918, created the work between 1916 and 1917. It was acquired by Galeria Ricci Oddi in 1925 and was included in its inauguration in 1931.
In 1996, X-ray analysis showed that it was an overpainted version of one of Klimt's previous lost works, Portrait of a Young Lady. Ironically, this painting would also remain lost for more than two decades.
On October 22, 1997, Portrait of a Lady was declared stolen. It was to have been moved to another building, to be the centerpiece of a temporary exhibition. It has become one of Italy's biggest art theft cases.
Presumably, to perplex investigators, the thieves left the large structure of the work on the gallery's roof, perhaps to suggest that they had entered through the skylight. However, openness itself proved to be very narrow. As the case grew into legends, others falsely confessed to crime (maybe as performance art, who knows?).
You don't have to be a screenwriter to speculate about how the painting ended up where it was for so long. Perhaps a group of thieves hid him there, planning to return as soon as the heat subsided, but he started poking himself in the back in a series of double crossings. You can practically hear the Italian dialogue.
If this saga were adapted for a film, it would not be the first time that a missing Klimt would inspire a cinematic adaptation. In 2015, Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds co-starred Golden woman, on the return of a Klimt painting stolen from a Jewish family during World War II. We hope that the case will be resolved so that we can start to merge the fantasy seriously.