Whether or not a small easel painting in Tonawanda, NY is a Michelangelo preparatory painting for the Pietà is the basis for a very contentious discussion. Its current owner, Martin Kober, claims that it is the painting that Michelangelo gave to Vittoria Colonna, referenced in one of her letters. His claim has been dismissed by nearly every museum or connoisseur he has approached. However he now has the support of Italian conservator and Michelangelo scholar Antonio Forcellino.
The New York Times article outlines the history and the controversy – be sure to read the readers’ comments to see how deeply opinions run on this!