GENEVA: A package of diaries said to have been posted to the US from Britain in the 1960s could provide a vital clue to the origin of a controversial portrait presented in Geneva last month as Leonardo da Vinci’s original Mona Lisa.

But notes by early 20th century British connoisseur and collector Hugh Blaker disappeared and the address they were sent to seems to have never existed.

The diaries would also help establish if the so-called Isleworth variant of the world’s most famous painting could indeed be an earlier portrayal by Leonardo of the enigmatic smiling lady.

Blaker, an unsuccessful painter who as a museum curator and dealer had a reputation for recognising lost Old Masters, found and bought the “younger Mona Lisa” in 1913 in an unidentified nobleman’s country house in Somerset, England.

The diaries, along with other papers, were passed after the death of Blaker in 1947 to his painter friend Murray Urquhart. Before he died in 1972, Urquhart said he had sent Blaker’s notes from before 1931 to a researcher named Charles Woods at 116 1/2 Maryland Drive, Washington DC – but heard nothing more.

Researchers have established there was no such address. There is also no trace of Woods. – Reuters