In 1985, four businessmen traveled to Switzerland and were introduced to a centuries old sculpture languishing in a vault. Hand carved from beeswax, the piece measured 10” high by 8” long and 3” wide depicting a war horse and its distinguished rider and was purported to be by Leonardo. The men contacted Dr. Carlo Pedretti, Professor Emeritus of Art History and Italian Studies on Leonardo da Vinci at UCLA and considered the world’s authority on the life and works of Leonardo. After much study and research, Dr. Pedretti authenticated the work as a Leonardo. The businessmen had a mold made from the delicate wax sculpture but never followed through on plans to make and market bronze sculptures from the mold created. The whereabouts of the original wax sculpture is currently unknown.
Richard A. Lewis purchased the mold in 1988 along with the letter of authentication from Dr. Pedretti and other documentation; storing it for 25 years. After retirement, Lewis searched on the Internet for information about the mold and about one year ago contacted Art encounter in Las Vegas. Brett Maly, the president of Art encounter and respected appraiser in the art world, is also known as the fine art appraiser on the television show, “Pawn Stars” on the History channel. Maly admitted that he probably chuckled when told by one of his staff that someone was calling to speak to him about a Leonardo da Vinci piece he owned. After realizing the caller was legitimate, Maly involved his father, Rod Maly, founder of Art encounter with decades of experience, to present Horse and Rider to the world in Las Vegas.
The sculpture is on permanent display and a limited number of sculptures made from the mold are available for purchase at the Renaissance Galleries located at The Shoppes at the Palazzo. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Las Vegas Salvation Army in the name of Charlie Desiderio, who represented the Salvation Army as head of marketing until his passing in 2011. For more information, visit www.davincihorseandrider.com.