Gustav Klimt's lost painting was found!

The painting was found by gardener at the Ricci Oddi Gallery of Modern Art…

Earlier this week, a gardener peeling ivy from the Ricci Oddi Gallery of Modern Art in Italy found something incredible: behind a metal panel adorning the gallery's outer wall was a painting half hidden by a black trash bag. Gallery staff immediately began to wonder if the vibrant painting they found was actually the work of Gustav Klimt, Portrait of a Lady (1916-17), estimated at $ 66 million and stolen from this space nearly 23 years ago.

Currently, the painting is in the possession of the police, who confiscated it for authentication. Is it possible that one of the most sought after art pieces in the world was actually hidden behind the scene of the crime itself all along? The gallery has not yet made an official statement until the authenticity of the painting has been confirmed, but the gallery's director, Massimo Ferrari, told Italian newspaper La Liberta that "the stamps and wax behind the painting are original."

According to reports, the Portrait of a Lady was made by a Viennese art nouveau painter as part of a series of female portraits. Ten months before the theft, which took place in 1997, an art student, Claudia Maga, revealed by X-ray analysis that Klimt had done the Portrait of a Lady over another piece - A Portrait of a Young Lady, thought to have been lost since it was last seen in 1917.

The portrait of the Lady disappeared amid preparations for the exhibition at the Ricci Oddi Gallery, where it was supposed to be the main piece. Investigators at the time suspected the painting had been stolen three days earlier, possibly by someone connected to the gallery. Its broken frame was found on the roof of the gallery, leading investigators to believe that the painting had been taken off the wall and lifted with nylon fishing thread through an open skylight. The investigation reopened in 2016, following the discovery of DNA traces of potential thieves on the frame. This week, investigators said the painting is in excellent condition and that its colors are still in full force.

"If the investigation confirms the authenticity of the painting, it will be a sensational discovery and we will be ready to exhibit it in the gallery in January," said Jonathan Papamerengi, a member of the Piacenza Council for the Italian publication La Repubblica. "We are talking about the most sought after stolen painting in the world, after Caravaggio’s work, the birth of Christ with Saint Francis and Saint Lawrence."

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