NEW YORK - Is it or isn't it a painting by Leonardo da Vinci? That's the question that has been debated about La Belle Ferronniere for more than 80 years.
The portrait, pictured, thought to be of Lucrezia Crivelli who was a mistress of Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, was painted sometime before 1750 by a follower of the Renaissance master, according to Sotheby's, which will auction the work in New York.
The controversial work was the subject of a slander trial in the 1920s and two books. Adding to the intrigue, it has been locked away in a vault since about 1946.
Another version of the work in the Louvre Museum in Paris is believed by experts and scholars to have been done by Leonardo da Vinci or one of his pupils.
"I don't think anyone knows who did the painting," said George Wachter, Sotheby's co-chairperson of the Old Master Painting Worldwide about the painting that will be sold on January 28. "I personally do not believe this picture is by Leonardo."
Harry Kahn, an American serviceman during World War I , and his French wife Andree received the painting in 1920 as a wedding gift from her grandmother. It was thought to have been done by Da Vinci and authenticated by a French art expert.
Sotheby's expects the painting could sell for $500000 (R3,7million) but that the price could go much higher. - Reuters