The Lost Leonardo

Leonardo da Vinci and the Portrait of

Isabella d’Este






















In 2013 an oil painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci appears in Lugano, the portrait of Isabella d'Este, Marchioness of Mantua. The owner of the painting, Emidia Cecchini, is about to sell it for 140 million euros when Italy accuses her of illegal export. The painting is confiscated, but Switzerland does not release it.


For 500 years it was not known whether Leonardo completed the portrait of Isabella d'Este, whose sketch is hanging in the Louvre. Expert examinations of the painting found in Lugano show similarities with Leonardo da Vinci's way of working and put the age on the time of the Renaissance. For the first time in this film the photographs of the examinations are published. The Italian Emidia Cecchini, 74, who inherited the painting from her father, is sentenced to 14 months in prison by an Italian court for illegally exporting a cultural asset. Italy does not believe her that the painting has always belonged to her family and has been in Switzerland for many years and asks Switzerland for legal assistance and restitution of the painting. Will Switzerland follow Italy’s request or protect the owner's property? The story that takes on the contours of a thriller had a final turning point recently. Annette Frei Berthoud reconstructs in this documentary the whole story, gives voice to the owner, the lawyers, the historians, the art historians.


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