Police seize lost ‘Da Vinci’ painting in Switzerland

Italian and Swiss Police have seized a lost painting attributed to Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci from a bank vault in Switzerland.

LUGANO, SWITZERLAND (FEBRUARY 10) (ITALIAN FINANCE POLICE) – Italian finance police said on Tuesday (February 10) they had seized a painting attributed to Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci from a bank vault in Switzerland after an international investigation.

Swiss and Italian police seized the portrait after establishing that talks were at an advanced stage to sell it for around 120 million euros and they are probing unnamed persons for illegally exporting art works and for insurance fraud, they said.

The 61cm-by-46.5cm work is understood to be a portrait of Mantua Marchesa Isabella d’Este, one of the leading patrons of the Italian Renaissance. It was in the vault of a Lugano-based trust, they said.

The painting has been ascribed to Leonardo on the basis of fluorescent analysis dating it to the first decades of the 16th century, according to a statement from the Italian police.

Further tests will now be carried out to confirm the attribution.

Isabella, called “magnanimous” by the poet Ariosto, sponsored painters including Titian, Raphael, Giovanni Bellini and Leonardo, and repeatedly requested that Leonardo paint her. For many centuries, only a drawing was known to have been made.

As well as being a patron of the arts, Isabella was a leader of fashion, whose innovative style of dressing was copied by women throughout Italy and at the French court as well as being a political figure.