Who was the Mona Lisa? Apparently a man

silvano-vinceti-mona-lisa-gi.jpgTurns out the model behind Leonardo da Vinci's legendary painting may not have been a woman at all.

Silvano Vinceti, chairman of the Italian national committee for cultural heritage, has spent significant time and effort attempting to decode da Vinci's cryptic messages that many believe to be hidden in the painting. He announced in a Rome press conference on Wednesday (Feb. 2) that he has discovered the person behind the ever allusive smile.

Da Vinci's young male apprentice (and possible lover) Gian Giacomo Caprotti, commonly referred to as Salai, is said to be the inspiration behind the painting.

Salai worked with da Vinci for 25 years and is thought to be the model behind many of his paintings. According to Vinceti, the two had an "ambiguous" relationship.

Aside from facial similarities between several figures in da Vinci's pieces of art, including "St. John the Baptist" and "Angel Incarnate," Vinceti claims to have found the letters L and S hidden within the painting. L for Leonardo and S for Salai.

The Louvre, where the painting is housed, has immediately refuted the claim.

The Parisian museum says that they have performed "every possible laboratory test" and insist that "no inscriptions, letters or numbers, were discovered in the tests." Analyses were made in 2004 and again in 2009.

"The aging of the painting on the wood has caused a great number of cracks to appear in the paint, which have caused a number of shapes to appear that have often been subject to over-interpretation," a rep from the museum tells the American Free Press.

"I can understand their incredulity and amazement -- after all this must be the most studied picture on earth," Vinceti fires back. "They're really blind."

Adding that his team would be happy to travel to France and collaborate on more tests with the Louvre.

"We're ready to go to Paris and extract a tiny bit of paint from the numbers and see whether they match the rest of the painting, to see if they were done at the same time or are marks that have appeared over time," he suggests.

Forget "The Da Vinci Code." If Vinceti's claims turn out to be true, we can definitely see another movie in the works. 
Photo/Video credit: Getty Images
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