NPR logo A Michelangelo Behind The Couch?


A Michelangelo Behind The Couch?

kober michelangelo

A painting at least one expert claims is a lost work of Michelangelo. hide caption

toggle caption

Loose change, sure, but a painting worth as much as 300 million dollars? That's just insane, or some couch.

Martin Kober and his family called it "The Mike" because of a family legend it was actually a Michelangelo. It hung on the wall for a while, then 27 years ago it was knocked down by a stray tennis ball, so they wrapped it in bubble wrap and stashed it behind the couch.

In 2003, Kober retired and decided to spend his free time looking into the history of the painting. He looked through books, talked to archivists and auction houses, and eventually got in touch with Antonio Forcellino, an Italian art historian and restorer.

From the Telegraph:

In his book "The Lost Pieta," Mr Forcellino said: "I had assumed it was going to be a copy. In reality this painting was even more beautiful than the versions hanging in Rome and Florence. The truth was this painting was much better than the ones they had."

Mr Forcellino claims that infrared and X-ray examinations showed changes made by the artist and an unfinished area of canvas close to the Madonna's right knee.

He said: "The evidence of unfinished portions demonstrate that this painting never, never, never could be a copy of another painting.

"No patron pays in the Renaissance for an unfinished copy. I'm absolutely convinced that is a Michelangelo painting."

The painting ended up behind the Kober couch because it was willed to a lady-in-waiting to a German in the 19th century. That lady-in-waiting was the sister-in-law of Kober's great grandfather.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.