Lost drawing by Leonardo Da Vinci discovered after 530 YEARS
The work was found hidden in a portfolio of unsigned sketches inherited by a retired doctor who had no idea it was inside.
It was only when he took the drawings to an auction house for valuation that the previously unknown Da Vinci drawing was revealed.
The drawing, measuring about 7.5ins by 5ins, depicts the martyred St Sebastian tied to a tree.
The lost drawing is valued at £12million
It is inscribed 'Michelange' (Michelangelo) on the mount.
Da Vinci did many drawings but they are mostly in museums, so this is an incredible discovery
Louis de Bayser – Salon du Dessin President
On the back of the sheet there are two smaller scientific drawings accompanied by notes.
The date of the work is estimated between 1482 to 1485, during the early phase of the Mona Lisa artist's period in Milan.
The portfolio of drawings had belonged to the father of the present owner, who wishes to remain anonymous.
Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, by Lattanzio Querena
Sadly, it is not known when or how his father acquired it.
The lucky vendor, who is French, took the portfolio of about 10 drawings to auctioneers Tajan in Paris.
Louis de Bayser, president of the Salon du Dessin, a prestigious exhibition of drawings from famous artists, was brought in by Tajan to authenticate the drawing.
He said: "It was found in a portfolio of drawings that was brought to an auctioneer by a private person.
"The portfolio had anonymous drawings and we looked at this one which we were quite quickly convinced was by Da Vinci.
"It was discovered last year but it always takes time in terms of expertise in order to be sure it is his drawing.
"The first thing we noticed was that the drawing was done by a left handed artist. With Da Vinci this was the case but there are not so many left handed artists.
"Also, the movement you see in pictures, with the many different positions for the arms and legs, was typical Da Vinci.
"Da Vinci did many drawings but they are mostly in museums, so this is an incredible discovery.
The date of the work is estimated between 1482 to 1485
Possible self portrait by Leonardo da Vinci
"When we realised it was by Da Vinci it was a mix of feelings. You are both full of excitement and on the other hand you can't really believe what's happening.
"It was so important to get this right that we have double checked it and triple checked it so we are definitely sure it is by Da Vinci."
Discussions are ongoing over whether the drawing will end up in a French museum or be sold.
Tajan has applied for an 'export' licence for the drawing to be sold on the open market but this has been refused by the French government which is keen to stop an item of such significance leaving the country.
They wish instead for it to be homed in a French museum for art lovers to enjoy.
The French government now has 30 months to find 15 million euros for the drawing to prevent its export, according to rules protecting French heritage.
A study of the Ideal Man by Leonardo Da Vinci 1485-1490
Mr de Bayser said: "Tajan have applied for an export certificate issued by the French museums which has been refused.
"We are now in negotiation with them regarding the purchase by a museum or a patron of this drawing.
"They have a 30 months period during which they can try to find the money."
Mr Bayser said the owner was "very happy" with the discovery especially for his children.
Da Vinci (1452-1519) was an Italian painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect and engineer whose paintings of His Last Supper and Mona Lisa are among the most popular and influential paintings of the Renaissance.
The record price for a Leonardo drawing sold at auction is $11.5 million (£9million) for his study of a horse and rider at Christie's in 2001.