Klimt thieves confess to stealing then returning painting

Police probing alleged ransom payment

(ANSA) - Piacenza, January 21 - Two Piacenza burglars have confessed to stealing and then returning a Klimt portrait which was recently declared to be authentic after being found in the bowels of the museum in the northern town it was stolen from.
    Police are investigating reports in the local daily Libertà, to whom the thieves confessed, that a ransom was paid by a local bank.
    Experts have declared the painting found in Piacenza in December to be an authentic work by Gustav Klimt, the northern city said on Friday.
    The painting is Klimt's Portrait of a Lady, which went missing from Piacenza's Ricci Oddi Modern Art Gallery in 1997 and was presumed stolen.
    During work to clean up ivy covering the gallery's exterior wall, an interspace closed by a door was discovered, behind which there was a bag containing the picture.
    "This news is of historic importance for the artistic and cultural community and for the city of Piacenza," said Mayor Patrizia Barbieri and Culture chief Jonathan Papamarenghi.
    Barbieri and Papamarenghi thanked the experts and the police who worked on the case and "never gave up the investigation".


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