10 Famous Artworks That Remain Lost

Van Gogh’s Sunset at Montmajour sat in an attic in Norway for six decades, believed to be a fake, but the 1888 landscape painting has finally been authenticated as the real deal. We brought you news about the discovery earlier this week when we surveyed rediscovered paintings by famous artists — those that were pegged as copies or fakes, but turned out to be originals. Now we’re looking at famous artworks that remain lost. Many pieces of fine art are stolen or destroyed, but we’re putting the focus on the works that continue to be a complete mystery, whereabouts unknown.


The mythological tale of Leda and the Swan has been the subject of numerous artworks for centuries, illustrated by master artists all over the world. Michelangelo was one of them, having created a painting about the encounter between Zeus and Leda in the 16th century as a commission for an Italian duke. It was later displayed by the French royal family before it vanished completely — along with Leonardo da Vinci’s version of the subject (painted in 1508). It may have been destroyed due to its erotic and violent subject matter, but its true fate is unknown to this day. (The above photo is a copy of Michelangelo’s work by Peter Paul Rubens.)