2012 has been a huge year for Leonardo afficionados, starting with a large conference in London, a second Mona Lisa has been discovered, a third has been debated, and Leonardo’s lost mural of the Battle of Anghiari was believed to be found behind a mural by Vasari in Florence. Some have argued that it was worth damaging Vasari’s mural to get a glimpse at the perceived masterpiece behind it. Well in the year that keeps on giving for the Leonardo faithful, the BBC has announced that police have recovered the painting Leonardo produced based on the scene over 400 years ago. After being stolen 73 years ago and out of the public view, the painting is scheduled to be exhibited in the Uffizi in 2013.
The spate of recent thefts over the past year have led most experts to dismiss a sophisticated network of art thieves and reclusive collectors in European chateaus and Japanese boardrooms hiring thieves by contract, opting for a more thuggish portrayal of small time drug dealers and mafia members stumbling upon priceless works. However, the path of Leonardo’s masterpiece seems to affirm that the theft was more James Bond or Indiana Jones than Scarface as the BBC reports,
The painting – on a small wooden panel measuring 115x86cm (45x34in) – was last seen in public 73 years ago on the eve of World War II, when it was shown at a Leonardo exhibition in Milan.
Then it disappeared.
But the Italian carabinieri police department which specialises in art theft patiently managed to track the clandestine life of the painting – known as the Doria panel from the name of the family in whose art collection it had remained for three centuries.
After being stolen from its owners in Naples, the panel passed into the possession of a Swiss art dealer, was sent to Germany for restoration in the 1960s , then turned up briefly at a New York art gallery in the 1970s before ending up in the collection of a wealthy Japanese art collector in the 1990s.