Missing Gustav Klimt Painting for 23 Years May Not Have Been Stolen After All
Mon, August 15, 2022

Missing Gustav Klimt Painting for 23 Years May Not Have Been Stolen After All


Famous Austrian painter Gustav Klimt was known for his colorful, patterned portraits of women, which now command enormous sums on the open market. Thus, it’s not surprising that his artworks were usually targeted by art thieves. Some of the artworks have been stolen on several different occasions. For instance, the "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I" was stolen by Nazis from the Jewish Block-Bauer family during the Holocaust. 


Photo Credits: The New York Times


The recovery of this painting and the other five stolen Klimt works were documented in a book titled “The Lady in Gold” written by Anne-Marie O’Connor. The author narrated that those works ended up in the possession of the Austrian government. In 2006, the paintings were returned to Adele Bloch-Bauer's niece Maria Altmann after she filed a lawsuit demanding the work’s return in 2000. Another Klimt creation that was stolen was the “Portrait of a Lady,” which had been missing for 23 years. 


Photo Credits: Live Science


According to Live Science, a science news website that features groundbreaking developments in science, space, technology, health, the environment, culture and history, the painting went missing from the Ricci Oddi modern art gallery in Piacenza, Italy on Feb. 22, 1997. However, as it turned out, the artwork might not have been “successfully” stolen after all. Last December 10, 2019, a bag containing the portrait was found by a gardener at the gallery. He saw the bag in a gap in the walls. 


Photo Credits: ARTNews.com


O'Connor, an expert in stolen Klimt art, explained that it’s possible that that the thieves stashed "Portrait of a Lady" in the gallery wall, hoping to return to recover and sell it once news of the theft died down. However, the thieves evidently didn’t go back to claim it since the value of Klimt's works were climbing sharply during the 1990s, thus, it would be impossible to sell the artwork to a private buyer.




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