This claim that these are two separate works rides on the fact that the Sgarbi version of the work has a candle in the upper left corner, while the original Manetti work does not. Critics have speculated that Sgarbi inserted the candle himself. Sgarbi said that he did not even buy the work, rather, he purchased a country villa in Viterbo over twenty years ago and the Manetti work was found inside. In Sgarbi’s point of view, the work he owns is the original, and the one stolen from the Burasco castle is the fake.
His art restorer, Gianfranco Mingardi, has other ideas. According to Il Fatto Qutidiano, Mingardi created over 100 paintings for Sgarbi and in 2013 the undersecretary called him and asked to fix a painting. Mingardi said that the work was delivered to him on the side of a highway “without a frame, rolled up like a carpet.” If one is to believe Sgarbi that he found the work two decades ago, why would he all of a sudden bring it to his restorer to fix, only weeks after the Burasco painting was stolen? And why would they deliver the work in such a cryptic manner?
The Manetti work is not the only work related to which Sgarbi is facing accusations. Another work, this one attributed to the French artist Valentin de Boulogne was seized by police in Monte Carlo. According to the BBC, Sgarbi is being investigated for illegally exporting the painting whose value is estimated at $5.5 million.