A landmark Leonardo da Vinci painting which went on display to art lovers around the world on Friday could be fakes and contains a fake label, a leading Italian journalist claims.
The centenary exhibition of the “Salvator Mundi” at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art saw the oil canvas which sold in November for $450 million set off sparks with some experts.
A lack of attribution from experts had some suggesting the famous painting was purchased in poor condition.
Those doubts were further heightened by new photographic evidence according to Vittorio Murriero, a regional journalist who headed a recent investigation into the event.
Speaking to local media in Florence, Murriero confirmed that several of the experts he contacted suggested that the painting could be a fake, pointing to a label reading “the work of Leonardo da Vinci.”
His calculations suggested that the painting, which now hangs in New York, took about 10 years to create and was not possibly made by the artist in his lifetime.
Murriero even went so far as to say: “For a man with a genius of Leonardo da Vinci to put some label on his work would be a lie.”
However, it is vital for critics of the portrait that the historians and artists critical of it are willing to do the same.
The Old Master’s painting is among the most famous in the world and experts are divided over whether it is by the master or someone else.
Academics at the Metropolitan Museum of Art said that the documentation provided by the auction house Christie’s gave confidence that the painting was a genuine Leonardo.
Murriero offered an alternative and even more compelling theory, citing the artist’s reputation to be besmirched by the recent controversy.
“This is the story of all of Leonardo’s works with one exception. We know that each painting in his Met exhibition was made a long time ago but today a fraud is being used against the works, that is why they are not shown,” he said.
The Met Museum believes that it will not be possible to detect whether the painting is a fake until it is exhibited.
The exhibition will run until Oct. 16.
Fox News’ Richard Colwell contributed to this report.