It was announced today that a work of art that was dated as a 19th century German piece is actually a previously unknown portrait by none other than Leonardo da Vinci. And exactly how was that conclusion arrived at? Fingerprints. Actually, fingerprint. Not even a whole one, at that.

After being sold at auction for $19,000 a decade ago and as part of a private collection, the piece was analyzed by Parisian firm, Lumière Technology, only to discover a print in the paint that matched one known to have been made by the master painter himself. Immediately, the value of the painting shot up to $160 million and was locked away in a Swiss bank vault.

Here’s the question: how does value get assigned to a piece like this? Before it was known to be the work of daVinci, it was priced based on what were thought to be its contemporaries, but after, it becomes part of the body of work of one of the most famous and gifted artists in the world and is given a price tag of $160 million. Would it ever be part of the “priceless” category, like the Mona Lisa, simply because it’s a bona fide da Vinci? Or is it somehow more or less desirable because it’s a recent discovery?

Your Orange County web design team is always fascinated with how art and design is perceived and what makes it good or pleasing. Hopefully this newly discovered piece becomes part of a collection open to the public so that the masses can catch a deeper glimpse into the work of a master.

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