A Stolen Painting Was Found In Wall Of The Museum It Was Taken From 23 Years Ago

art auction is pictured
Mario Tama / Getty Images

Art lovers around the world are rejoicing after a painting that vanished over two decades ago in an unsolved crime was found in the most unlikely of places: the museum where it had previously been kept. According to Science Alert, the painting was Austrian artist Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of a Lady, and it was found in the Ricci Oddi Gallery of Modern Art in Piacenza, northeast Italy.

Though the painting had been found in December, it had to undergo a series of tests to confirm its authenticity before any public announcements were made. These included comparing the new painting to previous tests of the painting taken under infrared and ultraviolet light in 1996.

“It is with no small emotion that I can tell you the work is authentic,” prosecutor Ornella Chicca happily announced.

“The correspondence between the images allowed us to determine that it’s definitely the original painting,” added art expert Guido Cauzzi, who had actually performed the original tests 24 years ago.

However, though many are happy about the finding, others are expressing their confusion at the mystery of the painting’s 23-year disappearance. It originally went missing in February 1997, when the museum had been closed for renovations.

Many officials are wondering whether a thief simply returned the artwork after being unable to sell it or feeling guilty, or if it had been on the premises all along. In addition, authorities still have not identified the perpetrator.

Gardeners found the painting in a small ventilation space that was covered by ivy. It was without a frame and wrapped up in a trash bag.

“At the moment, we can’t say whether it has been there all along,” Chicca confessed, adding that the painting would be undergoing multiple tests to help determine whether it had been in other environments.

Though art restorers are on hand, Cauzzi said that the painting fortunately did not sustain much damage.

“It’s gone through a few ordeals, but only needs some routine care, nothing particularly complicated,” he explained.

The painting was of incredible value because it was the only double portrait painted by Klimt. Completed in 1917, the painting is estimated to be worth between an eye-watering $67 to $111 million.

Meanwhile, though the crime might have occurred over two decades ago, theft unfortunately remains as common as ever. Just two weeks ago, NBA star Allen Iverson was the victim of a robbery. As was previously reported by The Inquisitr, the star athlete lost over $500,000 worth in jewelry.