It was found in 2015 in a Swiss bank safe: the painting of Isabella d’Este, long thought to be lost. The story of an alleged art crime that has never been solved.

In 2013 an oil painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci appears in Lugano: the portrait of Isabella d’Este, Marchioness of Mantua. The owner of the painting, Emidia Cecchini, is about to sell it for 140 million euros when Italy accuses her of illegal export. The painting is confiscated, but Switzerland does not release it. For 500 years it was not known whether Leonardo painted the portrait of Isabella d’Este, whose sketch is hanging in the Louvre. Experts’ examinations of the painting found in Lugano show similarities with Leonardo da Vinci’s way of working and estimate it was created during the Renaissance. Photographs of these examinations are made public for the first time in this film. The Italian Emidia Cecchini, 74, who inherited the painting from her father, is sentenced to 14 months in prison by an Italian court for illegally exporting a cultural asset. Italy does not believe her claim that the painting has always belonged to her family and has been in Switzerland for many years and asks Switzerland for legal assistance and restitution of the painting. Will Switzerland follow Italy’s request or protect the owner’s property? The film tells the story of the painting and accompanies Cecchini in the struggle for her painting.

Genre Art/Current Affairs
Length 52' HD
Film by Annette Frei Berthoud
Production Co-production PIC-FILM and Berthoud Media with RSI and SRF with the support of Swiss Federal Office of Culture, Teleproductions Fonds, Fondo FilmPlus della Svizzera italiana, Ernst Göhner Foundation
Original Title Leonardo da Vinci und das Gemälde der Isabella d ́Este / Leonardo da Vinci e il ritratto conteso di Isabella d ́Este
Year 2019