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Stolen Gustav Klimt Painting Will Return To View After 23 Years

After 23 years since it was stolen and 10 months since its discovery, a Gustav Klimt painting is returning to view.

Titled ‘Portrait of a Lady’, the painting was created by Gustav Klimt around 1916-17. It was on view at the Ricci Oddi Modern Art in Italy when it was stolen in 1997. For almost 23 years, the case remained unsolved. Then, last December, the painting was mysteriously found inside an exterior wall within the gallery itself, covered by a garbage bag. Tests confirmed that it was indeed the stolen Klimt painting.

Then, in January, two men confessed to having stolen the painting in 1997. They also said that they returned the painting as a “gift” to the city. The confession was sent in the form of a letter to a local reporter. Some speculate that the confession was made only now because the statute of limitation for the crime has elapsed, so the perpetrators can no longer be prosecuted for the theft. Authorities are no investigating Rossella Tiadina, the widow of a former Ricci Oddi curator, for possible connection to the theft.

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The return of the painting, which was once valued to be over $66 million, is historic for the gallery. As such, they are preparing to Livestream the return of the painting on view. Over the next 2 years, the painting will be displayed in four exhibitions.

Portrait Of A Lady was a part of a series of paintings on women by the Viennese artist. The mystery of the uncanny resemblance of the painting with an earlier Klimt work, ‘Portrait Of A Young Lady’, was also resolved. Forensic tests revealed that the current painting was painted over an earlier work, likely the 1912 similarly-titled painting.