Imagine an art piece that was thought to have a value of 70 million dollars being in a trash bag. Now imagine being a gardener cleaning and finding it yourself. This story was true for a gardener in Italy who, while clearing ivy, found the art piece called “Portrait of a Lady” by Gustav Klimt, a well known Austrian artist. This artwork was his only portrait that he painted twice and it was noticed by an 18 year old girl who suggested that they get an x-ray done on it. He supposedly first painted a woman that he had fallen in love with, but she died out of nowhere. To cope with her death, Klimt then painted over the lady. This was news to everyone and it was decided that the painting would be moved for it to be exhibited. During the exhibition though, on February 22 in 1997, it seemingly disappeared. With the artwork being moved to a new location, and the gallery it was currently in being renovated, it was too busy to have any real suspects of who could have stolen it. Since there was no idea who it could be, they asked a thief that was known for stealing artworks for help or any idea why the frame was left on the roof close to where the exit on the ceiling was. Even he could not help them however. Although it still is not sure who stole the painting, some say it is the thief they asked for help, while others say it was these three men who say they stole it and decided to just leave the painting hidden as a gift back to the city. The painting however was found in December of 2019, which means that it would’ve been in a trash bag for 23 years, and yet was found in good condition. To this day, we still don’t know who stole the painting and we may not know for a while or dare I say, ever.

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Delia Salas

One thought on “Who Dun It?

  1. Hey,
    I find the world of art theft fascinating. It is interesting how pieces of art can just reappear unexpectedly. Considering its immense value, it is insane how the painting was discovered by a gardener in a trash bag, especially in such good condition, even after so long. Many paintings are very delicate and require proper care and preservation to maintain its condition over time. I believe the fact that this painting was still in good condition just goes to show the durability of the materials utilized (maybe a little bit of luck too). This story must have brought a sense of relief to the art community as a valuable piece had been recovered after so long. I also find it fascinating how the thief was never discovered and the reason behind his theft and how the painting ended up in the garden will remain unknown. This reminds me of the theft and eventual recovery of the Mona Lisa, though Perugia was convicted in that case.

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