Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is one of the most valuable paintings in the world — with the Guinness World Record for the highest known insurance valuation worth $800 million (around Rs 5,000 crore) in 2017. The half-length portrait is also one of the most written about and parodied work of art in the world. But, could you believe that its popularity would rise up to a level where even a reproduction of the art work would be sold in millions.
The painting is in the spotlight again — thanks to artist Marcel Duchamp, who is known for his quirky sense of humour. As bizarre as it may sound, one of Duchamp’s reproductions of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, on to which he pencilled a beard and moustache, has sold for €632,500 ($750,000) at Sotheby’s in Paris. Part of the sale of a collection of surrealist works owned by American Arthur Brandt, was one of nine works in the sale by the French artist, who is seen as the father of conceptual art.
Another aspect of the Mona Lisa works is that they are entitled ‘L H O O Q’, which in French sounds like the phrase “elle a chaud au cul”, translated as “she’s horny”. Interestingly, it had a pre-sale estimate of 400,000 to 600,000 euros.
It is said that Duchamp purchased a cheap reproduction of da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and replaced her smile with a moustache and beard in 1964 — on the request of his friend and dealer Arturo Schwarz, for the limited edition of Pierre de Massot’s book Marcel Duchamp, Propos et souvenirs published in only 35 copies.
Other Duchamp pieces included Boite-en-valise or ‘Box in a Suitcase’, which was sold at €319,500 beating its pre-sale estimate of €180,000 to €250,000.