Bendor Grosvendor: The Art Newspaper

Does the Leonardo madness show no sign of abating? In Sotheby’s recent New York Old Master sale, a copy of the Mona Lisa soared past its estimate of $80,000-$100,000 to sell for $1.69m. It seems extraordinary that someone would pay so much for a copy (in fact, that’s probably an auction record for any copy). Then there is the fact that the painting had been offered privately before the auction for considerably less, but with no takers. Some have seen the transaction as suspicious.

But should the price really shock us? There are in fact a number of reasons why the picture made so much. First, there is the speculative element of anything connected with Leonardo these days. Although the painting was described by Sotheby’s as probably painted in the 17th century—which, it being on canvas (the original is on panel), is very likely correct—there is no shortage of optimists looking for earlier copies with a tangible connection to Leonardo himself. …Read More

Image: Mona Lisa by a follower of Leonardo da Vinci (17th century) Courtesy of Sotheby’s