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December 11th, 2012
07:47 AM ET

Have they found Mona Lisa? Art researcher searches to identify model's remains; Ben Wedeman follows the trail

Leonardo da Vinci's priceless masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, and her perplexing smile, has fascinated art lovers and historians for centuries. But who was she? One man in Italy is attempting to find out. CNN’s Ben Wedeman has the story.

“In the frigid bowels of what was once a convent in Florence, television producer-turned art researcher Silvano Vinceti is leading a project to find and identify the remains of the woman who posed for da Vinci more than five hundred years ago,” Wedeman says. “Historical records seem to indicate that this is the place where Lisa Gherardini, otherwise known as Mona Lisa, was buried. Beyond that, it's all a mystery.”

“The remains of five females here…will be compared with the DNA of two relatives buried elsewhere,” Wedeman reports. According to Vinceti, after they have been identified, “we can reconstruct the face, with a margin of error of two to eight percent,” Wedeman says. “By doing this we will finally be able to answer the question the art historians can't: Who was the model for Leonardo? The smile, on the other hand, will probably remain a mystery.”

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