Stolen Leonardo Da Vinci Painting Found: 'Tavola Doria' Returned To Italy

Dec 03, 2012 | Updated Dec 03, 2012

Leonardo da Vinci's "The Battle of Anghiari" is the "LOST" of Renaissance frescos: every step towards solving its mystery seems to reveal even more loose ends. Yet a stolen copy of the long lost masterpiece was recently returned to Italy after years on the black market, possibly providing more insight into one of art history's greatest mysteries, the BBC reports.

battle of anghiari stolen

The stolen work, a panel called the "Tavola Doria," is a 400-year old copy of Leonardo Da Vinci's fresco "The Battle of Anghiari," the Telegraph reports.

"Tavola Doria" was stolen from its owners in Naples in 1940; according to Italian police the work than headed through a Swiss art dealer, German restorators, a New York art gallery and eventually the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum.

Italian officials have been in conversation with the museum to bring the work home, since 1992, when the work was found in the Japanese capital. The two parties recently reached an arrangement giving Italy and Japan joint access to the work for 26 years, allotting the work to Italy for two years at a time and then rotating to Japan for the following four. Despite its contested authorship, experts believe in the value of Vasari's painting. “The idea that an ancient copy of a lost artwork can be as important as the original is familiar to scholars,” art historian Salvatore Settis told the BBC.

The newly returned artwork went on display this week at the Quirinale Palace, home of President Giorgio Napolitano. Next it will head to Florence's Uffizi Gallery, where it can be reunited with its sibling works in the Leonardo Room, including paintings like "Annunciation" and "Adoration of the Magi." Will the recently recovered masterpiece shed light onto the ongoing hunt for the bearded master's magnum opus? We certainly hope so, but the odds are about as good as a satisfying "LOST" finale. We can't take any more disappointments...

See researcher Seracini at work in the slideshow below. Do you think his hunt should be resumed?

Battle of Anghiari