Artist and revolutionary polymath Leonardo da Vinci has sensationally claimed that best selling author Dan Brown stole the idea of the code at the centre of his best selling book, The da Vinci Code, from him.
"I first used that code in 1486. It was after some smart-arse held a mirror up to my backwards handwriting and I had to come up with a new way of keeping secrets, so I invented the da Vinci code. That's why it's called the da Vinci code, cos I invented it!"
Leonardo appeared wearing his trademark flowing robes, sandals and long beard, he looked pale but otherwise in very good health for a man who died in 1519. He was speaking outside the court in Florence, Italy where he is demanding recognition for his part in Brown's success.
"You'd look pale if you'd just ridden a donkey for 22 miles from my place (Vinci in Tuscany Italy) along those bumpy roads." He replied to queries regarding his health. "My arse feels like I've been humped all night by the invading hoards of Hannibal and his elephants. I know one thing, the roads in Italy haven't improved much since the 16th century! I was going to fly over in my helicopter but it's got a touch of woodworm."
Brown's da Vinci Code, which has become one of the best selling books of all time, is based on the ancient legend of Joey da Vinci who in the late 15th and early 16th centuries developed a code which he used to leave clues in cartoon emails to his colleagues as to the whereabouts of the office coffee supply.
His activities were stopped when his employers banned all non-work related emails, da Vinci quit under a cloud and was never seen again. The coffee was lost for ever.
The lost coffee has been the subject of legend and is thought to be hidden somewhere in the UK having been taken there by knights returning from the crusades.
Brown's story follows the adventures of a Harvard professor who is suspected of the murder of the leader of a secret society whose members have become guardians of the lost coffee container, known as the Jar. He befriends the victim's grand daughter and they become involved in a series of unlikely adventures, but even after several hundred pages, they still don't find the elusive Jar.
It has been suggested to Leonardo, who invented email, the cartoon and coffee, that the name of the code maker (da Vinci) and the use of email cartoons to carry the disputed code in the book are purely coincidental.
"Yeah right!" Spat the hairy multi-centurion. "That's like saying that Pope Callistus III didn't have a balcony. I've never been paid properly for anything. That bloke del Giocondo still owes me for that painting I did of his missis, the bloody Mona Lisa. I'm just glad that I didn't finish it."