Opinion

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Meet the rogue who fooled the world from his shed

Memoir: A Forger's Tale, Shaun Greenhalgh, Allen & Unwin, €23.79

Shaun Greenhalgh claims that he is the creator of La Bella Principessa, a £100m drawing attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci
Shaun Greenhalgh claims that he is the creator of La Bella Principessa, a £100m drawing attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci

Eilis O'Hanlon

Art experts had declared the painting to be a long lost masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci, and valued it at €110m - but as soon as he saw the picture, Shaun Greenhalgh recognised it as his own work.

He'd been copying works of art since he was a boy in the North of England, and knew that, far from being a Renaissance princess, the woman in La Bella Principsessa was actually a girl from the local shop, aka "Bossy Sally from the Co-op".

Growing up in a working-class household, Greenhalgh didn't even realise that art college was an option. Instead he used his talent to make things, for his own satisfaction at first, and later for money as he realised there was a ready market for what he produced. Over the next two decades, Greenhalgh and his parents, who made the original approaches to buyers, netted more than £1.3m (€1.5m) from his efforts. He spent the money travelling Europe to see more art treasures.

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