Bids on Mona Lisa replica set to raise up to $365,000 in Paris sale

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A visitor walks past the painting ‘La Joconde’, the French name for The Mona Lisa, at the Louvre Museum in Paris on May 19. A replica of the painting is to go on sale this week in Paris. AFP

A replica of the Mona Lisa which was passionately defended by its owner in the 1960s as the original Leonardo de Vinci canvas is to go on sale this week in Paris, where it is expected to raise up to €300,000 ($365,000).

The painting is known as the Mona Lisa Hekking, named after Raymond Hekking, an art dealer based in the south of France who cast doubt on the authenticity of the original masterpiece owned by the Louvre museum in Paris.

After buying his version in the Riviera town of Nice, Hekking succeeded in drawing art historians and journalists to his home to examine his purchase while insisting that the Louvre owned the fake.

Auction house Christie’s is to put the work on sale on June 11, with the quality of the reproduction and the unusual back story setting the replica apart from other versions of one of the most copied paintings in the world.

“This work and its history illustrate the fascination that the Mona Lisa and the aura of Leonardo da Vinci have always held,” the auction house says on its website, estimating the price at €200,000 to €300,000.

The original Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in 1911 by Italian Vincenzo Perugia, only to be returned three years later.

Hekking wrongly claimed that the returned canvas was not the original.

Upon his death in 1977, his replica was passed on to his family who have decided to put it up for sale. AFP