One of the world’s most famous self-portraits is going on rare public display in the northern Italian city of Turin, the BBC reports.
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.”