Possible Leonardo da Vinci painting seized from Swiss vault

Reports have emerged that Italian authorities have ordered a portrait attributed to Leonardo da Vinci to be seized from the vault of a Swiss bank during an investigation into tax crime and insurance fraud. Artnet news states that the painting, which measures 61 x 46.5 centimetres, is valued between €120–150 million if authentic.

Reuters report that police were first alerted to the existence of a possible da Vinci after a southern Italian lawyer was found in 2013 with a warrant to sell it for no less than 95 million euros.

The oil painting is thought to be the final version of a pencil sketch of Marchesa of Mantua Isabella d’Este, which hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

“There are no doubts that the portrait is the work of Leonardo,” Carlo Pedretti, professor emeritus of art history and an expert in Leonardo studies at the University of California, told Corriere della Sera upon the work’s discovery in 2013. “I can immediately recognise da Vinci’s handiwork, particularly in the woman’s face.”

However other art historians and commentators remain skeptical. The oil portrait of Isabella d’Este is painted on canvas, whereas Leonardo preferred working on wooden boards, for instanced. “Canvas was not used by Leonardo or anyone in his production line,” da Vinci expert Martin Kemp told the Telegraph in 2013. He has expressed further doubt on his blog.

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