Did 'Lost' Da Vinci Sell for Only $21K?

Mystery endures for portrait
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Oct 17, 2011 12:10 AM CDT
La Bella Princessa: Is it a Da Vinci?   (Facebook)

(Newser) – Christie's auction house let a "lost" Leonardo Da Vinci portrait fly out the door for a mere $21,000, according to some art experts. The portrait was from a 500-year-old book about the duke of Milan and likely features an illegitimate daughter, according to Oxford art historian Martin Kemp. "We knew it came from a book, you have the stitch holes and can see the knife cut. Finding it is a miracle in a way. I was amazed," said Kemp, who has studied the master's works for some 40 years. He has "no doubt" La Bella Princessa is a Da Vinci.

Christie's obtained the portrait in 1998, and believed it was created by a 19th-century "Nazarene" German artist, although this was disproved later by carbon dating, reports MSNBC. The work was sold to an art dealer in 1998 for $21,000 and resold later to a collector for $19,000. If the work is by the master, it could be worth some $150 million, according to ART News. A growing number art historians believe the work is a Da Vinci, though several top experts disagree. A famed "art detective" claimed to have found Da Vinci's fingerprint on the work, but even such forensic proof can be faked, as shown recently in a scathing New Yorker article. The mystery endures.

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