The famous 17th-century Mona Lisa Hecking that owner Raymond Hecking claimed in the 1960s to be the original Leonardo da Vinci has sold for 2.9 million euros ($3.4 million) at an auction organized by Christie’s online auction house.
A foreign collector of art managed to snatch this excellent quality copy after a competition between 14 bidders, according to the Paris auction house.
“This is insane,” a Christie’s spokeswoman said. “This is a new record for a Mona Lisa replica.”
Bids a week after the auction began on Christie’s website reached 2.4 million euros excluding expenses, far exceeding the initial estimates of the price of the painting, which ranged between 200,000 and 300,000 euros.
The painting made international news after passionate art collector Raymond Hecking acquired it from an antiques dealer in the region of Nice (southern France).
Hecking continued to assure the authenticity of this painting to art historians and the media until the 1960s. He questioned the authenticity of the painting kept in the Louvre and asked the museum to prove that Leonardo da Vinci had created it.
Obsessed with the idea of owning the real Leonardo da Vinci, Hecking believed that the painting, which was returned to the Louvre in 1914, three years after it was stolen in 1911 by Italian Vincenzo Peroga, was not the real Mona Lisa, but rather a copy of it had been put in its place.
“It is similar to the Mona Lisa, but the work is not as good as Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings, and unfortunately the dream ends at this point,” said Pierre Etienne, international director of pioneering antique paintings at Christie’s.
After Raymond Hecking’s death in 1977, the painting remained with his family.
The Mona Lisa entered the collections of François I shortly after 1517. Several copies were made since the beginning of the seventeenth century, including the copy obtained by Raymond Hecking.