Finding out an old scrap of paper, a family heirloom, or a flea market find is actually worth millions seems like something that only happens in movies. After all, priceless artifacts are carefully watched over, aren’t they?
Well, not always. It’s rare, but pieces of history doturn up at flea markets.Some even hide in plain sight for years before someone recognizes what they really are.
That’s what happened back in March 2016, when a retired doctor brought a collection of old drawings tothe Tajan auction house in Paris.
Most of the drawings were nice, but nothing special, untilThadde Prate, director of old master drawings at the auction house, saw something that set his heart racing.
It was a small ink drawing, browned with age, showing the martyrdom of St.Sebastian. Prate believed it was a long-lost drawing from the Renaissance master himself, Leonardo da Vinci.
Of course, he wasn’t about to go making wild claims. Prate sought a second opinion from another expert, Patrick de Bayser.
de Bayser discovered two more sketches on the back of the drawing that looked scientific in nature, complete with tiny notes written backward. He also noted that the drawing had been created by a left-handed artist.
Leonardo da Vinci was left-handed, and he was known for making notes in a curious, mirrored handwriting. Still, it seemed impossible. How can a da Vincioriginal justappear like that?
But when a third expert was called in, it was, as far as they could tell, confirmed. This drawing, that had been shut in a folder with 13 other drawings, was really created by Leonardo da Vinci.
[H/T: My Modern Met, New York Times]
This is the drawing that was found amid a collection of other unidentified drawings brought to the Tajan auction house in Paris by a retired doctor.
When expert Thadde Prate saw it, he immediately thought of Renaissance artist and innovator Leonardo da Vinci, but he couldn’t believe that a real Leonardo drawing had simply fallen into his hands.
The drawing shows St.Sebastian tied to a tree, moments before his martyrdom, and is only about five by seven-and-a-half inches.
But upon further examination, it became increasingly clear that this was something created by da Vincihimself.
On the back, there were two scientific sketches as well as some small, backward handwriting.
Leonardo, who was left-handed, liked to write backward.
In fact, it’s one of his trademarks. This detail made it certain: Thedrawing was created by Leonardo da Vinci, probably in the early 1480s.
It’s estimated that this small, 534-year-old drawing is worth $15.8 million.
Leonardo da Vinci is known for his brilliance in a variety of subjects, including art, mathematics, astronomy, architecture, music, history, and much more during the Renaissance.
Basically, there was nothing he couldn’t do. He’sthe original Renaissance man.
He’s famousforpainting theMona Lisaand her mysterious smile.
Actually, many people in Leonardo’s paintings are smiling!
He’s also famous for his contributions to science and math.
He studied everything from human anatomy to plants tothe stars and planets. He studied by observing and drawing what he could see.
He was even granted special permission to dissect human remains for study.
Leonardo’s also credited with designing, though not building, modern machines like tanks, cannons, and even flying machines like the one pictured above.
These ideas never took real form, but they inspired plenty of inventors in centuries to come.
The newly rediscovered drawing of St. Sebastian is believed to be a sketch for what would later become a large painting.
And the retired doctor who brought this piece of history into the auction house to begin with?
“I’m very pleased,” the doctor, who wishes to remain anonymous, said, “but I have interests in life other than money.”
You really never know what might be hiding in the most ordinary of places.
SHARE this incredible find with anyone who loves an unexpected discovery!