A replica of Leonardo Da Vinci's famous Mona Lisa has been sold for 2.9 million euros in an online auction, Christie's house announced. It was a record price for a reproduction.
Virtual bidding began a week ago for the famous 17th-century copy of the Mona Lisa whose owner had defended as authentic in the 1960s and even challenged the Louvre Museum to prove that the one on display there was in fact Leonardo's work.
The net price was around 2.4 million euros but it grew up to 2.9 million after taxes. In any case, the painting was valued at between 200,000 and 300,000 euros before the auction.
The replica had featured on newspaper and magazine covers after collector Raymond Hekking bought it from an antique dealer in France's Nice (south) region in the 1950s. Hekking, passionate about art, defended the authenticity of this painting before the press and art historians until the 1960s.
Obsessed with the idea that he possessed Leonardo's masterpiece, Hekking believed that it was not the real Gioconda that was restored to the Louvre in 1914, three years after the first theft of the painting in 1911 by the Italian Vincenzo Perugia, and that a copy had been returned.
After Raymond Hekking died in 1977, the painting remained in the hands of his family.
The authentic Mona Lisa entered the collections of Francis I of France shortly after 1517. Later, in the early 17th century, several copies were made, including the one acquired by Hekking.
The reproduction is believed to have been painted in the early 1600s, about 100 years after the Mona Lisa, which hangs in the Paris Louvre.
Leonardo da Vinci created his work on a wood panel, while the replica is on canvas. The copy has been dubbed the Hekking Mona Lisa.