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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

da Vinci and Fingerprint Reliability

Davinci An anonymous Swiss art collector may have recently made the investment of a lifetime.  In 2007, he paid $19,000 for what may turn out to be a $150 million painting by Leonardo da Vinci.  On what grounds do they assert that it's a da Vinci? Fingerprints! An excerpt from the AP:

Biro said the print of an index or middle finger was found on the painting and that it matched a fingerprint from da Vinci's St Jerome in the Vatican. Biro examined multispectral images of the painting taken by the Luminere Technology laboratory in Paris. The lab used a special digital scanner to show successive layers of the work.

"Leonardo used his hands liberally and frequently as part of his painting technique. His fingerprints are found on many of his works," Biro said. "I was able to make use of multispectral images to make a little smudge a very readable fingerprint."

The claim that it's a da Vinci is not solely based on fingerprints.  "Technical, stylistic and material composition evidence also point to it being a da Vinci." 

The painting was purchased by Peter Silverman (who suspected it might be a da Vinci) for the Swiss collector.  The collector had already noticed that the painting didn't look like a 19th Century painting (as some had thought) and brought it to Silverman's attention.  If the art world accepts the painting as a da Vinci, you figure that the collector will be greatly indebted to Silverman.  Read the last line of the article and decide for yourself:

Silverman describes the Swiss private collector as a very rich man who has promised to buy him "lunch and dinner and caviar for the rest of my life if it ever does get sold."

Posted by Adam Kolber on October 14, 2009 at 08:13 AM | Permalink


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That sounds great, Adam. I'd love to hear what you think of it. I am very impressed about the "fresh" rating from rottentomatoes.com; that's rare (pardon the food pun -- smiles). Best, Kelly

Posted by: Kelly Anders | Oct 14, 2009 6:28:30 PM


I'll have to watch this movie. It got 100% "fresh" ratings on rottentomatoes.com. I usually have good movie-dar for interesting documentaries, but this one slipped out of range.


Posted by: Adam Kolber | Oct 14, 2009 3:19:22 PM

Biro authenticated the painting in the documentary, "Who the $%#* is Jackson Pollock?" which I show in my Art Law class. The process is really amazing -- very intricate and detailed -- and I think it's great to see that science is being used as a tool in this area. Unfortunately, the art world has yet to warm up to the idea, and it can be very difficult to get them to officially recognize a previously unknown work by a famous artist.

Posted by: Kelly Anders | Oct 14, 2009 2:38:11 PM

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