Art expert denies claim he verified Da Vinci
Assertions that an eminent scholar had authenticated a portrait by Leonardo da Vinci tantalised art lovers with the prospect of a new masterpiece and inflated a backroom bidding war worth tens of millions of euros.
Only Carlo Pedretti, long-time director of the Leonardo centre at the University of California, Los Angeles, said yesterday that he drew no such conclusion.
"I never attributed this painting to Leonardo," Pedretti said. "I only said it merited more study." The oil-on-canvas painting of noblewoman Isabella D'Este, was seized this week in Switzerland under an Italian probe into whether the painting had been illegally expatriated.
Financial police said in a release announcing the seizure that the work had been attributed to Leonardo by Pedretti - an assertion also made in an Italian magazine cover story in 2013. Police also noted that the work's market value had been driven up from a starting price of €95m when they first discovered the painting's existence in 2013, to €120m.