How to properly plan for retirement is an issue that vexes clients regardless of their level of wealth. As advisors, our jobs would certainly be easier if we could simply tell our clients to stumble across a lost masterpiece. Our cover this month, “Nu adossé I” (31.9 in. by 21.4 in.) by Tamara de Lempicka, which recently sold at Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on May 2, 2012 in New York for $5,458,500, was thought lost for over 85 years before resurfacing in the hands of an unwitting West Coast art collector. The painting actually hung on his wall for a decade before an art consultant finally notified the owner that it might be valuable. 

Last seen in 1925, on display in the show at the Bottegia di Poesia gallery in Milan that effectively launched Lempicka’s career, this piece, considered one of her seminal works, had long been listed as “location unknown” in her catalogue raisonné. Its rediscovery fills an important historical gap in the artist’s work and couldn’t be more fortuitously timed, because her popularity has exploded in recent years as celebrity collectors, such as Madonna, Jack Nicholson and Barbra Streisand, have publicly embraced her work.