Art experts said they have determined that a stolen painting discovered hidden inside an Italian art gallery’s walls is Gustav Klimt’s Portrait Of A Lady.
A gardener at the Ricci Oddi Modern Art Gallery in the northern city of Piacenza reported finding an artwork last month while clearing ivy.
Portrait Of A Lady was stolen from the gallery nearly 23 years ago.
“It’s with no small emotion that I can tell you the work is authentic,” said Piacenza prosecutor Ornella Chicca.
The portrait, of a young woman sensually glancing over her shoulder against a dreamy green background, was displayed on an easel and flanked by two police officers at a news conference.
The painting is a later work by the Austrian art nouveau master. Klimt painted it in 1916-17, and its disappearance had been one of the art world’s biggest mysteries.
However, it left several questions unanswered, including who had taken it and whether it ever left the museum’s property.
Since the gardener’s discovery, the canvas had been kept in a vault of a local branch of Italy’s central bank while experts used infrared radiation and other non-invasive techniques to determine if it was the original.
Experts said the painting was in remarkably good condition. One of the few signs of damage was a scratch near the edge of the canvas that may have resulted from a clumsy effort to remove the portrait from its frame.