Friday, February 9, 2018

Gustav Klimt Portrait The Lady: Copy, Original Gone 1996-1997


Summary: The Gustav Klimt portrait The Lady, atop Portrait of a Young Lady, is unavailable as an original since November 1996 and as a copy since Feb. 18, 1997.


Portrait of a Lady, 1916-1917 oil on canvas overpainting of first portrait, The Portrait of a Young Lady, painted 1912 by Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

A burglary of an original, a carryout of its copy, absence of evidence and audacious avowals articulate absconding with the Gustav Klimt portrait The Lady Feb. 18, 1997, from Piacenza, northern Italy.
Breakdowns in the bundling off of a beloved belonging and of a brilliant copy become believable only because of a border incident and a burglar's boldness. The crime concerns two carryouts of the double composition Portrait of a Young Lady of 1912 and The Lady of 1916-1917, as original and clever copy. Police and security initially did not know that the original's displacement dated from November 1996 and the copy's detachment from its frame from Feb. 18, 1997.
Examination of the original and of high- and poor-quality copies and explanations by self-described perpetrators end the enigma of the extraction and perhaps enable expeditious ends.

The Lady, not the Portrait of a Young Lady, officially fit into Galleria d'Arte Moderna Ricci Oddi (Ricci Oddi Gallery of Modern Art) collections in 1925.
The gallery records give the original description of a 32.6- by 21.6-inch (82.8- by 54.86-centimeter) oil on canvas by Gustav Klimt (July 14, 1862-Feb. 6, 1918). The Renaissance-styled structure built from designs by Giulio Ulisse Arata (Aug. 21, 1881-Sep. 15, 1962) has housed gallery collections at via San Siro 13 since 1931. Incipient collections in Giovanni Ricci Oddi's (Oct. 6, 1868-Oct. 23, 1937) mansion included inputs from family friends Oreste Labò (1865-1929), Carlo Pennaroli (1869-1919) and Giovanni Torelli.
Piacenza hospital X-ray department staff joined gallery director Ferdinando Arisi in judging 18-year-old art student Claudia Maga the discoverer of the only known Klimt double portrait.

Maga knew from The Collected Works of Gustav Klimt of identical overlaps in face, neck and upper torso that Klimt kept for two dissimilarly dressed models.
Maga listed that "both had in common the same glance over the left shoulder, the same smile and the same beauty spot on the left cheek." Unidentified staff made arrangements to mount special exhibitions near Piacenza's town hall, il Gotico, in the 10-month timeline before the Gustav Klimt portrait The Lady migrated. Ricci Oddi Gallery staff simultaneously needed to nestle the collections' 200 years' worth of 700-plus Romantic and post-Romantic art works into storage niches during building-wide renovations.
Carabiniere Sergeant Major Salvatore Cavallaro observed, "The doors of the gallery were open, people were going in and out, and the security system was switched off."

A gilded frame's partial fingerprint presented the only evidence until Arisi, director Stefano Fugazza, secretary Enrico Fervari and custodian Franco Fervari picked up a high-quality copy. The quest for the packaged copy for Bettino Craxi (Feb. 24, 1934-Jan. 19, 2000) in Ventimiglia, Liguria, Italy, qualified the quartet for a ₤240,000 speeding ticket.
Nothing further resulted until a self-described retired thief unsuccessfully requested in November 2015 €150,000 ($163,000) from Piacenza police to return the Gustav Klimt portrait The Lady. Another or the same ex-thief shared with Carabiniere Colonel Luca Pietranera and reporter Max Paradiso stealing the original November 1996 and its copy Feb. 18, 1997. He told them that "It was an easy and carefully planned inside job" and that the Gustav Klimt portrait The Lady would reappear Feb. 18, 2017.

The Portrait of a Young Lady, an oil on canvas painted in 1912 by Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt and subsequently overpainted 1916-1917 by The Lady: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Acknowledgment
My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.

Image credits:
Portrait of a Lady, 1916-1917 overpainting of first portrait, The Portrait of a Young Lady, painted 1912 by Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons @ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gustav_Klimt_061.jpg
The Portrait of a Young Lady, an oil on canvas painted in 1912 by Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt and subsequently overpainted 1916-1917 by The Lady: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons @ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gustav_Klimt_061_(before).jpg

For further information:
Néret, Gilles. 2015. Klimt. Köln; London; Los Angeles; Madrid; Paris; Tokyo: Taschen: Basic Art Series.
Neuendorf, Henri. 5 November 2015. "Mysterious Thief Surfaces and Demands Ransom for Klimt Painting Stolen in 1997." Artnet News > Art World.
Available @ https://news.artnet.com/art-world/ransom-stolen-klimt-painting-356045
Paradiso, Max. 8 December 2016. "The Mystery of the Stolen Klimt." BBC.com > News > Magazine.
Available @ http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-38242917


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