UCSD Team Leads Search For Lost Da Vinci Painting

'The Battle Of Anghiari' Mural By Leonardo Da Vinci Missing For More Than 4 Centuries

A team led by scientists at UC San Diego is attempting to locate a lost masterpiece painted by Leonardo Da Vinci.

The 12 by 15-foot mural "The Battle of Anghiari" is called Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece by many.

The mural has been missing for almost four and half centuries but its location could soon be uncovered.

"It's clearly a dream," said Falko Kuester, a structural engineering professor at UCSD. "It's a quest."

That is a quest led by a team of UCSD scientists, including Maurizio Seracini.

In the 1970s, Seracini discovered a tantalizing clue in the mural's last known location, which was Florence, Italy's city hall.

In 1505, Da Vinci began the mural there, but never completed it. The mural disappeared more than half a century later after renovations to the building.

Among the additions was a wall-sized fresco by Giorgio Vasari.

In the entire fresco, only one section has text. It read, "Cerca Trova," which means seek and you shall find.

Seracini wondered if those words could be a hint about whether Da Vinci's lost painting was hidden behind the fresco.

In the last decade, Seracini has led a series of tests, which range from laser and ultrasound to thermal imaging and radar scanning. The tests detected an unusual thin space between the fresco and the former wall.

To find out what is on the older wall, scientists hope to build a special camera that emits gamma rays – which are typically used to capture cancer cells – to map out hidden paint pigments.

10News spoke with Seracini, who is currently in Italy.

"We believe the process will create a ghost image of the mural," he said. "It's exciting and we're getting close. We're talking about the best of the best of the Renaissance."

The process will not be cheap. Multiple fundraising efforts, including a partnership with National Geographic, are under way for the $3 million needed that could reveal a priceless piece of history. About $500,000 is required to get the process started.

For how to donate, visit kickstarter.com. For more information on the project, visit hcisa3.calit2.net/patrons

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