WARNING: Viewing this Leonard da Vinci selfie may imbue you with special powers:
People actually believed this enough to go to great lengths to keep it away from Adolf Hitler, who was famously interested in the occult. The story from BBC News:
One of the world’s most famous self-portraits is going on rare public display in the northern Italian city of Turin. Very little is known about the 500-year-old, fragile, fading red chalk drawing of Leonardo da Vinci but some believe it has mystical powers.
There is a myth in Turin that the gaze of Leonardo da Vinci in this self-portrait is so intense that those who observe it are imbued with great strength.
Some say it was this magical power, not the cultural and economic value of the drawing, that led to it being secretly moved from Turin and taken to Rome during World War Two – heaven forbid it should ever fall into Hitler’s hands and give him more power.
Whatever the reason, this was the only work from the entire collection of precious drawings and manuscripts to be removed from the Royal Library in Turin at the time.
The library’s current director, Giovanni Saccani, says nobody even knows exactly where it was hidden. “To prevent the Nazis from taking it, an intelligence operation saw it transported in absolute anonymity to Rome.”
Under such difficult circumstances, preservation was not properly considered, “nor did they have the same knowledge and techniques back then,” says Saccani. “Naturally, this did not do its condition any good.”
Inside the Royal Library a pristine red carpet lines the stairs – we follow the steps down to a secure underground vault with reinforced doors…
[continues at BBC News]