Italian police announced on 11 February 2015 to have seized and recovered in Switzerland a genuine Leonardo Da Vinci oil painting. At first they refused to provide more details and only late in the day they unveiled their catch. They claimed to be sure of its authenticity because there was somebody willing to pay USD 100 million for it!
The delusion among the art expert was great when a crust derived from the cartoon kept at the Louvre – thought to represent Isabella D’Este – was shown.
Art expert and politician Vittorio Sgarbi as usual did not mince his words to describe it: “I am surprise that so much money was wasted on such police operation. This work is a rotten cabbage. The only valuable thing is, perhaps, the frame.”
The first indication that this picture is a fake lays the fact that it is on canvas and Leonardo never painted on canvas. True that the Benois Madonna at the Hermitage and the Virgin of the Rocks at the Louvre are on canvas, but this is because they were stripped from their original wooden base.
The cartoon of Isabella d’Este kept at the Louvre has been heavily retouched, certainly not by Leonardo, and copies of it are at Oxford and at the Uffizi in Florence. If this picture is truly old, then it may have been produced by one of the lesser disciples of Leonardo, like Salai, Boltraffio or some other obscure painters during the XVII century.