Search for stolen Klimt resumes after 17 years
Italian police hope to use DNA left on picture frame to find the thief
By Hannah McGivern. Web only
Published online: 19 March 2014
The Italian police have reopened a cold case involving a painting by Klimt stolen from a gallery in the northern town of Piacenza 17 years ago. The hope is that technological advances could help to uncover the thief.
Gustav Klimt’s Portrait of a Woman, 1916-17, is one of the most wanted works on the carabinieri’s list of stolen art objects. Its theft, from the Ricci Oddi modern art gallery in February 1997, was never solved. The empty frame was found underneath the gallery skylight, fuelling speculation that the thieves daringly fished the painting out of the gallery from the roof. The painting was stolen shortly ahead of the gallery’s planned closure for renovation.
Portrait of a Woman, which had been in the collection since 1925, was due to take pride of place in a temporary exhibition in the town hall during the refurbishment. Knowing that the frame would first be sent away for external conservation, and the painting removed from view, the guard who noticed its disappearance did not immediately raise the alarm.
The frame may now be the key to solving the case. No trace of the painting has ever been found but thanks to recent developments in DNA tracing, investigators can test a partial fingerprint left on the frame. According to the Italian news agency Ansa, forensic analysis could provide a match with one or more suspects in police records.
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