The Isabella d’Este (possibly) by Leonardo remains in Switzerland: the requisition was cancelled

That has been painted or not by Leonardo da Vinci, the portrait of Isabella d’Este found in a vault in Lugano continues to be an international case. Italy believed to be now a step away from the return of the painting claimed for years, but a few days ago the federal court of Switzerland has erased everything: not only the painting will remain where it is but the confiscation will decay as well and it will be returned to the owner. It will not therefore be part of the Italian artistic heritage. The questions about the work, therefore, do not subside. Really it was illegally exported from Italy in the first decade of 2000 as a judgment by the Supreme court supports? And above all: really it was painted by Leonardo, something about which critics are divided?

Growing value

The twofold question in these years has done nothing other than increase the curiosity and the reputation of Isabella d’Este; and in all probability also its market value. In 2013, when the judicial “nuisance” explodes, its price was 95 million euros. A lawyer, based in Lugano, was found in possession of the power of attorney to sell the work for that figure; but the picture’s tracks had been lost since immemorial time. How did it end up outside the Italian borders? The owner was a woman of Pesaro, Emilia Cecchini who claims that Isabella d’Este is a family’s good and it’s always been in Switzerland. She is not believed and sentenced definitively to a year and two months for illegal export of art goods. Plus: the Italian ministry obtains the seizure of the painting and begins the official diplomatic steps to bring it back.

“In Switzerland it’s not a crime”

And here is the twist: a further appeal of Emilia Cecchini’s lawyers to the Swiss federal court reckons that the confiscation and the demand of return are illegitimate. Why? Because there is no reciprocity of crime between Italy and Switzerland in the field of artworks’ traffic. Surprisingly, the Swiss judges give reason to the applicants and, therefore, all blows up: blows up the return in Italy of the work of Leonardo (?), blows up any restrictive measure on the work that will return to the Cecchini family. Indeed, Marc Weber, the lawyer who sustained the appeal, said to the media in Switzerland, that this judgment will be law for other similar cases.

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