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Oldest Mona Lisa replica?

Reuters

A file photo of Leonardo da Vinci's original "Mona Lisa" (L) which hangs in the Louvre in Paris, and a recently discovered and restored copy of the "Mona Lisa" painting as it was displayed at Madrid's El Prado Museum is seen in this combination photo Feb. 1, 2012.

AP reports: A "Mona Lisa" copy owned by Spain's Prado Museum was almost certainly painted by one of Leonardo da Vinci's apprentices alongside the master himself as he did the original, museum officials said Wednesday.

The stunning find of what the Prado now says is probably the earliest known copy of La Gioconda will give art lovers and experts an idea of what the Mona Lisa looked like back in the 16th century, said Gabriele Finaldi, the museum's deputy director collections.

The copy has been part of the Prado collection for years and displayed occasionally but no one paid much attention to it because around the woman in the Mona Lisa was a stark black background, not the pretty landscape seen in the original.

An analysis demonstrated this painting was done at the same time as the real masterpiece. NBC's Brian Williams reports.