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Saving Mona Lisa

Saving Mona Lisa is an intrigue of love and betrayal, art, and Renaissance genius. The story is inspired by the nine versions of Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic Mona Lisa depicted on the book cover—the original, plus eight copies of dubious provenance. The mystery over who painted these copies still confounds art historians, as does the fact that Leonardo refused to finish the original or deliver it to its rightful owner, right up until his death more than fifteen years later.

- In 2012, conservators at the Prado Museum in Madrid determined that their copy was painted at the same time as the original, but Leonardo did not paint it.

- In 2009, another “nude Mona Lisa” surfaced in France, further fueling the titillating question over who painted the nude versions.

Five centuries after his death, Leonardo da Vinci, the most renowned personality, artist, inventor, and temperamental genius in history, continues to reveal his many mysteries…

Based closely on scholarly research, historical evidence and credible speculation, Saving Mona Lisa weaves an intriguing mystery as Leonardo clashes with his two young apprentices over the ultimate fate of a painting that had achieved world renown soon after everyone thought it was finished...everyone, that is, except Leonardo.

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
-Leonardo da Vinci

***The Kindle version of Saving Mona Lisa is programmed for easy reader navigation and includes short bios of the principal characters, maps, historical Afterword, Italian glossary, and over 30 illustrations and photographs of Leonardo’s most important works.


On September 24, 1513, Leonardo da Vinci recorded in his journal that he was departing for Rome, via Florence. For the previous two years there is no detailed record of his activities and only sketchy evidence of his whereabouts. We know that sometime after December 1511 he left Milan and moved to the Villa Melzi in Vaprio d Adda, a small town on a river about a half-day's ride east. Here he and his bottega were hosted comfortably by the Count of Vaprio, father of Francesco Melzi, Leonardo's youngest apprentice.

Eight years previously, Leonardo had been residing temporarily in his native Florence, where he was commissioned to paint a portrait of a wealthy merchant's young wife. This portrait, called La Gioconda and known to us as Mona Lisa, exercised a strange hold on the artist. He refused to finish it or surrender it to its rightful owner, keeping it close, as one would a mistress. Apparently, this obsession baffled everyone who knew of it.

Recent scientific evidence confirms that Leonardo continued to work on the Mona Lisa until his death. Several unattributed copies of his paintings are also confirmed to date around the same time. Saving Mona Lisa,recounted through the eyes of the youthful Francesco, weaves a tale of the aging artist, his muse, and his apprentices set during the last few months of his hiatus at the Villa Melzi.


"I just finished reading Saving Mona Lisa and enjoyed it immensely... The author has brought to life such an interesting insight into the day-to-day life of "Il Maestro Leonardo" during this very interesting and unknown period - and the intricacies surrounding the Mona Lisa. What a great read!

--Andre DiMino, Past President of UNICO

"Really drew me in and kept me reading, wondering what would happen next. The drama and twists of real life somehow make Leonardo's work seem all the more magical. When transcendent art is rooted in real life, it takes on even more grandeur. This well-crafted tale follows an intriguing possibility. History is all the more interesting when brought to life through fascinating characters. This book does that, and more.
--Francis French, author In the Shadow of the Moon