Worn French antique of the same name. (Photo: U.S. National Archives via Alamy)
Madame Tussauds waxworks will be pumping out a new waxwork of Leonardo da Vinci in a few months. But first, they had to pronounce the claimant to the famous fresco that caused a huge auction price spike: The Mona Lisa.
The museum has cast doubt on the authenticity of the painting which Da Vinci reportedly commissioned for the Savoy Portrait. The painting is expected to sell for up to $450 million when it is auctioned at Christie’s in New York on October 15. It was expected to go for about $250 million at auction in 2016. It was presumed to be an unfinished painting, but when it was revealed to be an authentic, though unfinished, creation, it became a blockbuster selling the then record $450 million.
But there has been growing skepticism over the provenance of the painting, which was allegedly stolen from the Vatican by the Nazis in 1943, resurfaced in 1965 by a thief and got a renewed reappearance in 2002. Earlier this year it was accused of being a fake and a rare Italian museum, Florence’s Accademia dei Bei, devoted one of its shows to it which led Leonardo’s own court painter Leonardo Castelli to contest its existence.
In an interview with Vanity Fair in July, Leonardo Castelli said the Mona Lisa had been a fake, but that “she’s the real one” and that she was painted from real scenes and not one lifted from the Mona Lisa of the Renaissance. Castelli also said he spent a decade trying to convince his former master, Francesco del Giocondo, of the painting’s authenticity.