Gardeners discovered it in a black garbage bag, pulling out ivy. A painting stolen 20 years ago and accidentally found five weeks ago in Piacenza, in north-west Italy, is indeed an original of the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt, said a magistrate on Friday.
"It is with great emotion that I can tell you that the painting found is authentic," said Ornella Chicca at a press conference. In February 1997, when the Piacenza museum La Galerie Ricci Oddi was closed for work, the painting entitled "Portrait of a Lady" was stolen without leaving traces.
Ritrovato a Piacenza quadro attribuito a #Klimt
Si tratterebbe del "Ritratto di signora" rubato nel 1997 da Galleria d'arte moderna Ricci Oddi
Il capolavoro è custodito in luogo riservato dalla #PoliziadiStato in attesa di indagini più Thorough pic.twitter.com/q9UIjMmCJj
On December 10, gardeners who cleaned the museum's outer wall came across it. By tearing off ivy, they knocked down a small ventilation door, and discovered a black trash bag containing the painting on its frame but without a frame.
The director of the museum, Massimo Ferrari, had indicated from the first days after the discovery that the work could be authentic. "More than anything else, we looked at the back of the painting because it is behind that appear the wax seals and plaster where is affixed the stamp of the museum", had then explained the director, stressing that the back of 'a painting is "much more difficult to reconstruct than the front, even for counterfeiters".
The "Portrait of a Lady", a 55x65 cm painting, made in 1916/1917 by Gustav Klimt in the last years of his life, was widely publicized in 1996 when a student in the history of art, Claudia Maga, had helped to discover that under one portrait hid another.