A Russian man claims he sold a genuine Leonardo da Vinci painting through a classified ads site for €72 million.
A man identified only as Dmitry from the town of Mamonovo in Russia’s Kaliningrad region claims he found a buyer for a Leonardo da Vinci painting he listed on the Russian classified ads site Avito. The work, which he says was authenticated by the Swedish art conservation and restoration firm Ateljé Catellani, is a portrait titled A Young Girl in Furs; Dmitry listed the work as having an estimated value of €280 million ($324 million), but says he found a buyer for €72 million ($83 million).
Asked why he had sought to sell it through a classifieds site rather than an auction house—where, if authentic, its price could have soared into the stratospheric range of last year’s $450 million Salvator Mundi—Dmitry told The Art Newspaper: “Why do you find it so strange? I was able to sell it through Avito.” He posted the listing on August 1st and removed it four days later.
The painting appears to be the same work that was being shopped around to dealers and Leonardo experts four years ago, when the art advisor Todd Levin claimed to have been contacted by a man in Ireland named Richard Lawler who was selling not one but two Leonardos. Around that time Artnet News investigated the claim, and when a reporter asked historian and Leonardo expert Martin Kemp if he had heard about any da Vinci paintings making the rounds, and he said that of the two most frequently mentioned, one of them was “a portrait of a woman with a fur wrap.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Atelje Catellani told TAN, “There is nobody entitled to offer the painting. A mandate does not exist; nobody has access to the painting.”