Experts have questioned the authenticity of a painting that recently suffered some damage when a young boy tripped and punched a hole through the canvas at a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in Taipei
Surveillance footage released by organizers at “The Face of Leonardo, Images of a Genius” earlier this week showed the moment the 12-year-old boy seemingly lost his footing and used the Italian painting, said to be worth 1.5 million USD, as support—ultimately leaving a fist-sized hole in the middle of it.
However, new information presented by local media has left some experts and show organizers debating over whether the painting may actually be the work of another 17th-century Italian painter… and worth considerably less money.
Organisers said the “Flowers” painting, which forms part of a collection of 55 artworks in Taipei, was by Italian artist Paolo Porpora and dated back to the 1600s.
But a report in Taiwan’s Apple Daily said the painting seemed identical to an artwork entitled “Composizione con vaso di fiori,” a 17th-century piece by Mario Nuzzi, which was listed in the 2012 catalogue of the Della Rocca Casa d’Aste auction house, with a guide price of 25,000 to 30,000 euros (US$28,700-US$34,000). The work went unsold.
David Sun, head of TST Art of Discovery Co which sponsored the Taiwan exhibition, insisted that the two paintings were different, without going into details.
“From a professional’s perspective, if the paintings are so old and expensive, they should not have been exposed to an environment without constant temperature and humidity,” curator Sean Hu of Taipei-based Hu’s Art Company told AFP. “There are too many questions about it…. No one knows if the paintings are genuine or fake.”
However, when speaking with reporters at the exhibition venue, curator Andrea Rossi maintained that the painting is indeed the work of Paolo Porpora, and that it had been mislabeled when it was listed by the auction house in 2012.
“The painting was made by Porpora. It was a mistake made by (the) auction house,” he said in a Focus Taiwan report.
When asked whether the media could see a certificate of authenticity, Rossi said that it wasn’t possible as it belongs to the owner “and the owner decides what he wants to do with the certificate.”
The owner of the painting currently remains anonymous.
Porpora or Nuzzi, the masterpiece was fully restored a day after the incident and is now back on display.
The organizers of the exhibit previously said that they hadn’t planned on seeking compensation from the boy’s family and that the damages would be covered by an insurance company.