The mayor of Amiens in northern France has called on Madonna to lend one of the paintings in her collection to the city, arguing that it could have been stolen from the city during World War I.
“Madonna, you probably haven’t heard of Amiens… but there is a special link between you and our city,” Brigitte Foure claimed in a video address to the Queen of Pop, which she published on Facebook on Monday.
The 19th century painting ‘Diana and Endymion,’ believed to be by French artist Jerome-Martin Langlois and now owned by Madonna, “is probably a work that was lent to the Amiens museum by the Louvre before the first World War after which we lost trace of it,” she said.
Foure pointed out that the city’s authorities “don't dispute in any way the legal acquisition” of the artwork by Madonna. Instead, she wanted the singer to “loan” the painting to Amiens, explaining that it would strengthen a bid by the city of 135,000 to become the European Capital of Culture in 2028.
‘Diana and Endymion’ had been exhibited at one of the museums in Amiens between 1878 and 1918. But it disappeared during the heavy bombardment of the city by the German forces that year and was thought to have been stolen or destroyed.
The painting made headlines again earlier this month after Le Figaro newspaper published an article, suggesting that the artwork in question could actually be owned by Madonna.
The US pop-star reportedly paid $1.3 million for ‘Diana and Endymion’ at Sotheby’s auction in New York in 1989.
The purchase went unnoticed in France at that time, but in 2015 a curator from Amiens spotted what he thought could be a Langlois work in the background of a photo of Madonna at her home published in Paris Match magazine, according to Le Figaro.
Meanwhile, there’s no certainty about the authenticity of the painting owned by Madonna as it is said to be three centimeters shorter than the original and lacking the artist’s signature. The Louvre, which exhibited the piece in 1988, suggested that it was “almost certainly a copy, most likely by the artist himself.”
Foure said that it didn’t matter to her if it was a copy as it was still “extremely similar” to the original painting. “I'd like the people of Amiens to be able to see it again,” she insisted. Madonna has not yet responded to the request by the mayor.