Christie's is pleased to present, the Hekking “Mona Lisa”, the passionate dream of one man’s life: Raymond Hekking. The work was acquired by M. Raymond Hekking (1886 - 1977) in his native region of Nice from an antique dealer in in the 1950s. He then devoted his energy to defending his version of the painting, which he advocated as the original, relegating the reference work by Leonardo da Vinci kept in the Louvre to the rank of a copy. M. Hekking became an outstanding communicator, summoning the press, television and all the media from around the world to Nice, never hesitating to challenge the Louvre to prove the authenticity of his version. His intention was to question the restitution of the authentic work in the place of a copy after the famous theft of the painting by Vincenzo Perugia from the Louvre on August 22nd, 1911. The 1960s were a particularly important period for M. Hekking, who used the media campaign of the Mona Lisa's trip from the Louvre to the United States to communicate with American journalists; the Pathé film, ‘Mona Lisa Sensation’ is a perfect example.
Certainly one of the most identifiable images in the world, the original panel version of the Mona Lisa entered the royal collection of François I, in France, shortly after 1517. Several copies were made from the 17th century onwards, attesting to the work's great aura. The columns on each side are missing from the Hekking Mona Lisa, which is reduced on each side and therefore centered on the model. The Hekking version is similar to the group of paintings produced in the 17th century in terms of facture and material. The image remains as striking and fascinating as the perseverance of M. Raymond Hekking, marked by personal conviction and poetry.