A da Vinci painting in a farmhouse could turn out to be worth over $150 million if it is found to be a work of the master painter, engineer, and mathematician. The work was found, as it turns out, because of one woman's financial difficulties.
The da Vinci painting from a Scottish farmhouse was unveiled by Fiona McLaren, 59, who thought the work worthless. She assumed that the gift her mother gave her on her 40th birthday was of no value, so when she redecorated, she didn't cover it up- it got a few flecks of paint on it as a result. That didn't stop her from getting it appraised when she needed money, however.
McLaren brought the portrait of a woman believed to be Mary Magdalene to auctioneer Harry Robertson, the director of esteemed auction house Sotheby's in Scotland. His reaction to the work told McLaren the painting was very valuable.
"I showed it to him and he was staggered, speechless save for a sigh of exclamation," the woman told The People.
Robertson's trained eye could have picked up on the various similarities the painting has to a legitimate Leonardo da Vinci work: part of the painting is unfinished, the baby in the painting has a second toe longer than the first, and the boy bears a striking resemblance to da Vinci's boy in Madonna of the Rocks, another famous work.
Another piece of important evidence points to the 23-inch-by-28-inch painting's possible authenticity: a papal bull- a Catholic Church order- was pinned to the back of the painting with the word "Magdalene" visible. The picture is "brimming with sensuality," Florida University's Michael E. Abrams told Daily Mail, which could account for it being hidden; da Vinci could be burned at the stake for the heretic work.
Still, experts from Cambridge University and the Hamilton Kerr Institute are working to verify the painting's creator. If it is not a da Vinci, many experts agree that it is probably from a pupil of his, possibly around the 16th century.
The painting was first received by McLaren's father in the 1960s as a gift from a patient.