Italian experts to DNA test alleged Leonardo da Vinci hair strand

A staff looks at a reproduction of a self-portrait of Italian Renaissance polymath Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), displayed in the exhibition 'Da Vinci - Exploring Arts and Science' in Bremen, Germany, May, 14 2014. EPA-EFE FILE/CARMEN JASPERSEN

ROMA.– A pair of Italian investigators have found a lock of hair that they say could have belonged to Renaissance figure Leonardo Da Vinci, the team announced Monday in a statement.

The lock of hair was found in a private collection in the United States, Alessandro Zezzosi, director of the Leonardo da Vinci Ideale Museum, and Agnese Sabato, president of the Leonardo da Vinci Heritage, said.

«We have recovered a lock of hair overseas which has historically been called ‘Les Cheveux de Leonardo da Vinci’, along with another relic; this extraordinary relic will allow us to proceed in the search for his DNA,» the statement said.

The strand of hair that could have belonged to the Florentine artist will be unveiled to the world at a special press conference on May 2, the same day that marks the 500 year anniversary of da Vinci’s death in France.

Da Vinci (1492-1519) spent the last years of his life in Amboise (central France) under the protection of King Francis I.

The lock of hair will be exhibited in a world preview supported by documents that will demonstrate its ancient French provenance at the Leonardo da Vinci Lives exhibition the experts said.

«It is the element that was lacking to give further scientific concreteness to our historical research,» Sabato continued.

«Thanks to the genetic analysis on this find, which will be crossed with the DNA exams of the living descendants and of the burials that we have identified in recent years, it is now possible to make checks for the DNA research of the genius, also in relation to the tomb of Leonardo and Amboise,» she added.

In 2016 Sabato and Vezzosi claimed to have found the indirect descendants of da Vinci via his father Piero and brother Domenico.

Da Vinci was an all-rounder and developed scientific and technological designs, was a renowned artist and famously foresaw contemporary inventions such as flying machines and his «ideal city,» a precursor to urban planning.

The genius’ urban utopia bears a striking resemblance to modern cities with subways and tunnels and streets flanked by high rise buildings.

He also envisaged the use of prosthesis such as contact lenses.

From his artistic repertoire, his most well-known paintings include «The Last Supper» (1498) and the mysterious «Mona Lisa» (1503), which is considered one of the most famous canvasses in the world.

Italy has programmed 78 major events in numerous cities across the country to mark da Vinci’s death anniversary.

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