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Faking it—Mona Lisa copy sells for €2.9m

Hekking Mona Lisa courtesy Christie's

Even copies of the Mona Lisa sell for millions, such is the allure of the famous smiling lady and the prestige of the Leonardo brand. A reproduction of La Gioconda fetched €2.9m (with buyer’s fees) at Christie’s Paris in an online auction, soaring over its estimate of €200,000 to €300,000. The replica was once owned by the antiquarian Raymond Hekking, who insisted in the 1960s that his depiction of the Mona Lisa is the real thing rather than the bona fide work on show at the Louvre. Hekking did the media rounds when the celebrated painting was loaned to the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1963. In a film made by British Pathé the same year, the plummy commentator even pronounces that “if this proves to be the real one, all Mr Hekking has to do is to flog it." The work, consigned by the heirs of Hekking, is attributed to “Italian school, early 17th-century, follower of Leonardo da Vinci”. Several copies were made from the 17th century onwards, attesting to the painting’s “great aura”, says an essay in the Christie’s catalogue.