A fake of Da Vinci’s masterpiece known as the Hekking Mona Lisa was sold at Christie’s Auction House in paris on Friday. The painting fetched €2.9 million ($3.44 million). Auction organizers had estimated its price at between €200,000-€300,000.
In the 1960s, Hekking, an antique dealer based in southern France, passionately defended the painting as the real canvas by the famous Italian Renaissance painter, Leonardo da Vinci.
Raymond Hekking inspects a proof of a poster announcing the exhibition of the claimed original ‘Mona Lisa’ canvas in 1956
‘Bought for 3 pounds’
“He would dedicate the rest of his career to proving that the work by Leonardo da Vinci was the one he had bought for £3, while the work in the Louvre was a copy,” the auction house says on its website.
Pierre Etienne, international director of Old Master Paintings, has no doubt that “it is not the Mona Lisa, it is the Hekking Mona Lisa.”
The world-famous Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in 1914, and Hekking was soon convinced the painting returned to the gallery was not really the original at all — the one in his possession was the real Mona Lisa, he claimed.
Fascination for the Mona Lisa
Improbable as it seemed, the art historical community took the claim seriously.
Upon Hekking’s death in 1977, the replica was passed on to his family who have decided to put it up for sale.
Quoting Etienne, the auction house added that the replica “is not as compelling as the work in the Louvre but it conjures something of that world and, in a world of images, in which only the strongest ones stay in our mind, allows the dream to go on.”