Missing masterpiece possibly discovered in popstar Madonna’s collection

Global superstar Madonna is best known for being the “Queen of Pop”, but recently she’s been making headlines as the owner of a possible long-lost masterpiece. Experts believe the early 19th-century artwork that now hangs in Madonna’s home was once displayed in the Amiens museum in France, before it mysteriously disappeared during the first world war.

Brigitte Fouré, the mayor of Amiens, has asked Madonna to loan the work to the city whilst they apply to become European capital of culture in 2028. In the video appeal, Fouré said that Madonna has a “special link” to the city through an oil painting in her possession of Diana and Endymion. It is thought to be by the French Neoclassical painter Jérôme-Martin Langlois (1779-1838), commissioned by Louis XVIII (1755-1824) to hang in the Salon of Diane at the Palace of Versailles in 1822.

During the Third French Republic in 1873, it was removed and exhibited at the Musée des Beaux-Arts – now the Musée de Picardie – in Amiens as a loan from the Louvre. The collection was evacuated when the museum was bombed by the Germans in 1918, but upon their return the Langlois had been lost. It was first listed as “untraceable since the return of the 1918 removed works” and later presumed “destroyed by the falling of a bomb on the museum”.

Then in 2015, a curator from Amiens spotted the artwork in Paris Match magazine in a photograph of Madonna at her home. Madonna had purchased the “anonymous” piece for $1.3 million (£1 million) – more than three times its estimate – at a New York auction in 1989.

Whilst it was initially thought to be a near identical copy, some experts believe it could be the original. Madonna’s painting is 3cm shorter than the original artwork, which has led experts to wonder if Langlois’s original signature was removed.

Clearly, we don’t contest in any way that you have acquired this work legally,” Fouré assured the singer in her video message. Legal action has been lodged against “persons unknown” for the theft of the painting.

My initial aim was to do something a bit humorous to make people talk about my city, especially at this time, when the pre-selection for European capital of culture is happening,” explained Fouré. “I’m not asking her to give it to us but to allow us to borrow it for just a few weeks so people here can see it.

The European Union will announce the 2028 European capital of culture in December.

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