The small city of Amiens has sent out a plea to pop-icon Madonna, seeking the brief return of a painting that once hung in the city’s museum. Amiens hopes the return of Jérôme-Martin Langlois’ Diana And Endymion will help its chances in becoming the European Capital of Culture, and is turning to the singer for a loan.
“We do not dispute in any way the legal acquisition that you have made but we are candidates to be European Capital of Culture in 2028. So I would like that on this occasion, this year, you could lend us your painting,” Amiens mayor Brigitte Fouré says in a video posted on Facebook.
The painting was commissioned by Louis the XVIII, and hung in Versailles following its completion in 1822, per NPR. It eventually made its way to the Musée de Picardie in Amiens, where it remained until the city was bombed by Germany during World War I. The work was thought to have been destroyed until it was spotted hanging up behind Madonna in an image published by Paris Match magazine. The singer had apparently acquired Diana And Endymion at an auction in 1989 for a cool $1.3 million.
Over the course of her life, Madonna has amassed an impressive art collection, featuring rare paintings from the likes of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Pablo Picasso, Man Ray, Weegee, Tina Modotti, Herb Ritts, Fernand Léger, and her former partner Jean-Michel Basquiat (who reportedly destroyed a few of his paintings following the two’s break-up in 1984).
One of the Kahlo paintings became a point of contention a few years ago when the Detroit Institute of Arts begged and pleaded to borrow the painting for an exhibition on Kahlo’s artistic endeavors in Detroit. The 1932 painting, titled My Birth, was one of five paintings Kahlo completed in the city. Despite the museum’s cries, Madonna refused to loan the image.
“We tried to get it,” DIA’s adjunct curator Mark Rosenthal said at the time. “You have no idea what we went through. But I can’t describe all that.”
Madonna did previously loan My Birth to the Tate in 2005, so there’s really no telling if she will give in to the city of Amiens’ pleas.