Philip Mould

The Real Deal?

The American Leonardo: A 20th-Century Tale of Obsession, Art and Money

By

Constable & Robinson 400pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

This is the true story of a picture, reputedly by Leonardo da Vinci, that first surfaced on the art market’s commercial radar in 1920 when it was offered by a small-time art dealer to Kansas City’s Art Institute. Like all good stories it has its champions and pariahs, and barely had the painting bobbed over the parapet when a petulant and territorial Lord Duveen, the most powerful art dealer of all time, pronounced it a fake in comparison to what he declared to be the original in the Louvre. The libel case that followed resulted in Duveen handing over $60,000 in damages.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Something of an 'eccentric billionaire’s hobby': reviews 'The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and… ,
    • "At the age of fifteen, drunk on stolen Chardonnay or stoned on pot at a swimming party, the thoughts that come imm… ,
    • For the latest Bookends, here's Alan Taylor musing on his stint as an assistant librarian. ,
    • A ‘pretentious ass and impotent arriviste’ who surrounded himself with ‘degenerates, hooligans, childish layabouts,… ,
    • . reviews 'Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life' by ,
    • "As Beevor shows, it was one of the most daring, dangerous and fiercely fought operations of the whole war. It was… ,
    • "The characters are very rich and very male, with astronomical ambitions. The potted biographies in this book sugge… ,