"Still Life with Peonies" attributed to Van Gogh (detail)
For Markus Roubrocks, the status of a prized art treasure may hang on a single thread.
According to the Telegraph, the Cologne collector has always maintained that his picture “Still Life With Peonies,” which he inherited from his father, was executed by none other than Vincent van Gogh. His claim is backed by two independent experts — but contested by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which argues that the brushstrokes are inconsistent with the Dutch master's style. Now, a novel way to resolve the dispute may have been found.
A red hair has just been lifted from the picture. Its DNA will then be compared with those from van Gogh's living relatives. If they match, the painting could fetch up to £39 million ($60.8 million).
According to conservation expert Ester Monnik, who is in charge of the test, the hair's DNA can only have belonged to the creator of the work, whether that person was van Gogh or someone else. “It must have come from the artist because it was so deeply embedded in the painting under layers of paint,” she explained to the Telegraph.