Material Girl: Madonna Might Own Missing Painting, Says French Mayor

The mayor of the northern French city of Amiens appeals to pop stars Madonna to lend them what they believe is a missing 200-year-old neoclassical painting that disappeared from their museum during WW1.

But is Madonna’s version the genuine article or a copy?

Brigitte Fouréthe mayor, says in a video that the oil painting the singer reportedly owns is called Diana and Endymionwas “probably a work loaned to the Amiens Museum by the Louvre before the First World War, after which we lost track of it,” according to a report in The Guardian.

Now Fouré wants the “Material Girl” singer to provide the artwork as a loan to help Amiens’ bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2028.

The painting, depicting the Roman goddess Diana falling in love with Endymion, is believed to have been painted by Jérôme-Martin Langloisand dates to 1822. After being commissioned by Louis XVIII to hang in the Palace of Versailles, it was acquired by the French Republic in 1873 and was exhibited in Amiens at the Musée des Beaux-Arts – now the Musée de Picardie – beginning in 1878.

Langlois disappeared after the Germans pounded Amiens with bombs and artillery fire for 28 days in March 1917, destroying much of the city, including part of the museum. The paintings were brought to safety, but after the war Langlois was listed as “untraceable” and later believed to have been “destroyed by the fall of a bomb on the museum,” the Guardian reports.

The painting — or one nearly identical to it — resurfaced in 1989 at a New York auction, where Madonna paid $1.3 million for it, more than three times the estimated price, French newspaper Le Figaro said.

Madonna is an avid art collector known to have a collection worth an estimated $100 million, People magazine has reported. It includes Frida Kahlo’p My Birth (1932), one of only five paintings she created in Detroit; an extensive collection of Polish Art Deco painters Tamar de Lempicka; and Pablo Picasso‘s Buste de Femme à la Frange (1938), for which she paid nearly $5 million at Christie’s in 2000.

In 2015, a sharp-eyed curator from Amiens saw the Langlois painting in the background of a photograph of Madonna in her home, which was published in Paris Match magazine.

The painting Madonna bought is said to be an inch (three centimeters) smaller than the artwork that disappeared from Amiens and was unsigned and undated, prompting experts to wonder whether it is the original – or a copy.

The museum has filed a lawsuit against “unknown persons” for the theft of the painting Guardian reports. But Fouré, the mayor, says the city does not dispute that Madonna acquired the work at a “perfectly legal auction.”

The singer “bought it and she owns it,” the mayor says. “I’m not asking her to give it to us, but to let us borrow it for a few weeks so that people here can see it.”

Fouré would welcome a visit from the Madonna in Amiens, a city best known for textiles and its Gothic cathedral, and as the birthplace of the French president Emmanuel Macron.

“It would be great to have her come here, but I can’t imagine that happening,” she says. “Anyway, now everyone is talking about Amiens!”

Billboard contacted Madonna’s team, which had no comment.

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