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Collector spends $104,000 on Leonardo da Vinci NFT that may have been forged

The NFT platform MakersPlace sold an NFT of a supposed Leonardo da Vinci painting in April for £104,000. However, the original painting has an uncertain history, which led to conjecture on what the actual value of the NFT ought to be.

The painting La Bella Principessa, made by the artist sometime between 1495 and 1496, depicts Bianca Sforza, the illegitimate daughter of the Milanese merchant Ludovico Sforza, in profile. Ludovico Sforza was one of da Vinci’s biggest patrons and commissioned many of his works.

The NFT consists of a 500 million pixel hologram and was sold to a collector known as ModeratsArts, who also owns the well-known CryptoPunks and Bored Ape NFTs.

Principessa was last viewed publicly when art dealer Peter Silverman purchased the painting from Christie’s in 1998 for $22,000. Since Silverman bought the piece, few have been able to see the work, let alone analyse it. However, Pascal Cotte, founder of the multispectral scanning organisation Lumiere Technology, claims to have found a fingerprint which links the painting to da Vinci. This discovery was verified by da Vinci expert Martin Kemp who gave Principessa a stamp of authenticity.

However, famed art forger Shaun Greenhalgh claimed he was responsible for creating the work. Greenhalgh had served a prison sentence between 2007 and 2012 for his forgery crimes, creating doubt on the artwork’s authenticity.

Despite this, MakersPlace still advertised the NFT’s source work as ‘verified’ and took a 15% sale price cut. Caitlin Cruickshank, who organised the deal for MakersPlace, recently confirmed that she could not guarantee that the NFT was based on the scan undertaken by Lumiere Technology, which has led to a debate on what the actual value of the NFT should be.

However, Cruickshank admitted that MakersPlace remains in talks with Lumiere for future projects and sales.