A copy of the Mona Lisa was auctioned in Paris for almost three million euros.

The picture fetched 2.9 million euros including fees on Friday at Christie's in Paris and thus around ten times the estimated price, as the auction house announced.

The copy of the masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci dates from the beginning of the 17th century, the painter is not known.

According to Christie's, the painting went to a foreign bidder.

The picture comes from the estate of the American antiquarian and art lover Raymond Hekking, who died in 1977.

He was convinced throughout his life that the Mona Lisa in the Louvre in Paris was really just a copy and that he was in possession of the original.

Hekking represented this idea for a long time in the international media and with art historians.

According to Hekking's never confirmed thesis, the world-famous painting was reversed after the Italian Vincenzo Perugia stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in 1911 to bring it back to his homeland.

After Perugia was arrested, the picture came back to Paris - but according to Hekking only the copy, not the original.

He himself bought the real Mona Lisa decades later from a dealer near Nice.

After Hekking's death in 1977, he left the picture of his family.

Christie's expert Pierre Etienne said it was "the perfect example of the fascination that the Mona Lisa wields".

According to Christie's, the value of the copy was estimated at between 200,000 and 300,000 euros.

There are said to be several copies of the Mona Lisa.

Some of them had been auctioned in the past few years.

Sotheby's in New York, for example, sold a copy from the 17th century for just under $ 1.7 million (with a premium) in January 2019.

Just a few months later, the same auction house auctioned another replica for 552,500 euros in Paris.