This image taken from a video distributed Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019 by Italian police shows two police officers standing next to painting which was found inside a gallery's walls, in Piacenza, northern Italy. A gardener at the Ricci Oddi modern art gallery in the northern city of Piacenza told Italian state TV on Tuesday that he was clearing ivy from the gallery's walls when he noticed a metal panel in which he found a bag inside a space within the walls. When the bag was opened it contained a painting that might be Klimt's “Portrait of a Lady,” which disappeared from the gallery during renovations in February 1997. (Italian Police via AP)

Painting found in Italian gallery's walls verified as Klimt

January 17, 2020 - 9:58 am

ROME (AP) — Art experts have confirmed that a stolen painting discovered hidden inside an Italian art gallery's walls is Gustav Klimt's "Portrait of a Lady," Italian prosecutors said Friday.

A gardener reported finding an art work inside a bag last month while clearing ivy at the Ricci Oddi Modern Art Gallery in the northern city of Piacenza. “Portrait of a Lady” disappeared from the gallery during renovation work in February 1997.

"It's with no small emotion that I can tell you the work is authentic," Piacenza Prosecutor Ornella Chicca told reporters at a news conference.

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 during the announcement.

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.

There had been widespread optimism in Italian art circles that the gardener's discovery would turn out to be the missing Klimpt. Italy's Piacenza Sera quoted gallery officials as saying the back of the canvas bore stamps that were put on when the painting was on loan.

Since it's discovery, the work had been kept in a vault of a local branch of Italy's central bank.

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