Andrew Butterfield thinks he can make a strong case for this statue being by Donatello. It goes on display in New York at the end of the month so others can judge the work which has been in an Italian collection for most of the 20th Century:
“Scholarship in Renaissance sculpture is somewhere between 50 to 100 years behind that of painting, and so discoveries of this kind are still possible,” said Mr. Butterfield, a highly regarded scholar and old master treasure hunter who has been credited in recent years with discoveries of pieces by Bernini, Ghiberti, Mantegna and Donatello. If the new piece achieves a wide consensus in the art world, it would be a career coup. Mr. Butterfield stresses that the new piece is not currently for sale, but he hopes the piece will someday end up in a public collection. In a recent interview in his Westchester home, where he had the putto on display, he said, “Things still just bubble up, and mostly they are misunderstood.”
The piece he will show, which he bought from the estate of a Turin art dealer, Giancarlo Gallino, for a price he declines to disclose, has been seen so far by few people in the art world. So it is not entirely possible to gauge how it will be received. But the scholars that Mr. Butterfield has lined up on his side are eminent and believe that several factors — including ones as humble as a piece of iron hardware at the putto’s back, once used to secure it to a wall — point definitively to Donatello and specifically to the 1430s.
Statue May Be a Lost Work by Donatello (The New York Times)