Leonardo da Vinci died in 1519 in Amboise, France, at age sixty-four. He left behind a godlike reputation in art, engineering, and science. Shortly before his death, the maestro was visited by the Cardinal of Aragon and his secretary, Antonio de Beatis. In his bed chamber, the churchmen observed four da Vinci masterpieces: The Mona Lisa; The Virgin and Child with St. Anne; St. John the Baptist, and a bare-breasted madonna––Monna Vanna. De Beatis said, “Signor Da Vinci, your Monna Vanna is a profanation! It’s carnality. The appearance of the model is sexually suggestive and mocks our Mother, the Church. It smacks of heresy and must be destroyed! Ecclesia nonn novit sanguinem. The Church burns those who would displease them.” The “greatest genius of all time” devised a stratagem. After his death, three of the paintings ended up in the Louvre––where they are exhibited today. As to the Monna Vanna, her whereabouts remained unknown for five centuries until a young American art professor, Dov Markov, with the help of beautiful Mirielle Lecl©rc, head of the French Art Loss Registry, embarked on a breathtaking journey full of action, intrigue and conspiracy. Dov must confront powerful antagonists: a fanatic religious sect known as the “Holy Madmen,” ruthless international art traffickers, Russian mafia, and officials of the United States Government. While searching for da Vinci’s masterpiece, Dov uncovers his own family’s shady involvement with the missing painting. In Varenna, a small village on Lake Como, the mystery surrounding da Vinci’s lost masterpiece will finally be resolved.
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