Art And Culture

Swiss Police Seize da Vinci’s ‘Long-Lost’ Painting

Swiss Police Seize da Vinci’s ‘Long-Lost’ Painting Swiss Police Seize da Vinci’s ‘Long-Lost’ Painting

Swiss authorities have seized a long-lost portrait attributed to Leonardo da Vinci from a bank vault in Lugano. They followed orders of the Italian authorities, which claimed it had been illegally removed from Italy.

According to Artnet website, the painting, which measures 61 x 46.5 centimeters, is valued between €120–150 million.

The lost portrait of the Marchesa of Mantua Isabella d’Este had become a legend of sorts for many art historians, some even doubting its very existence. There are 23 genuine, fully accepted da Vinci artworks in the world, so a positive attribution to da Vinci would have an extraordinary impact on the history of art.

The oil painting is thought to be the final version of a pencil sketch of the marchesa that da Vinci drew in 1499, which hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris. Both portraits are strikingly similar, featuring a gentle and enigmatic smile that many have likened to the Mona Lisa.


The missing masterpiece was first discovered in October 2013 in a private collection of 400 artworks kept by an Italian family in a Lugano bank.

At the time, the family asked not to be identified. The Italian authorities had been alerted a few months before that the painting had been sold and that it was subsequently moved to Switzerland without the required export license.

“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, said upon the work’s discovery in 2013. “I can immediately recognize da Vinci’s handiwork, particularly in the woman’s face.”

However, according to experts, a strong contestant for the painting’s author is Gian Giacomo Caprotti, who started working for da Vinci as a child and is rumored to have become his fan.