Two years ago, “Salvator Mundi” was sold by Christie’s as a genuine Da Vinci masterpiece from circa 1500 for an absolute record of $450 million, but because it hasn’t been in the public eye since then, multiple doubts have arisen about both its whereabouts and authenticity.
The prominent auction house Christie’s has insisted that Leonardo Da Vinci was indeed the true creator of the world’s most expensive painting, “Salvator Mundi”, despite a fierce debate as of late about its origins.
“We stand by the thorough research and scholarship that led to the attribution of this painting in 2010”, Christie’s spokesman said, adding that no new discussion or speculation since the 2017 sale “has caused us to revisit the position”, AFP quoted the auction house as saying.
The portrait of Jesus was sold for a whopping $450million in New York to the Saudi royal family in 2017, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, but experts have since butted in, suggesting some “tiny details” point to that the famed work was likely made by Da Vinci’s workshop rather than the painter himself.
A specialist in Da Vinci’s technique, Jacques Franck, believes that a number of details “are very telling”, since some elements of the painting were “anatomically impossible”, including a poorly-depicted finger, he was quoted by AFP as saying. Another Da Vinci expert, Daniel Salvatore Schiffer, has failed to discern Da Vinci’s “spirit” in the work after analysing the details.
Meanwhile, Diane Modestini, who contributed to the restoration of the painting starting from 2005, stressed that she did not understand the controversy around the issue, insisting that “Leonardo Da Vinci painted it”, meaning that the work was rightfully presented at London’s National Gallery, which exhibited the painting in 2011 as an authentic Da Vinci piece.
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The issue around whom the painting should be attributed to has become even more relevant in the past months as Italy and France, the countries of the famed Da Vinci’s birth and death, are preparing to mark 500 years since the Renaissance genius passed away.
The Louvre says its anniversary exhibition that is scheduled to open in Paris in autumn will bring together “a unique group of artworks that only the Louvre could bring together”, along with its own outstanding Leonardo collection. Yet it remains to be seen if “Salvator Mundi” will be part of the exhibition.
Previously, last September, the painting was to go on display at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, but it wasn’t shown to the public at the time, with no explanation given. The museum didn’t reveal the name of the buyer either, merely noting that the Emirate’s Department of Culture and Tourism had “acquired” it.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the buyer of the artwork was Saudi Prince Badr ben Abdallah, acting in the name of powerful Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He has never confirmed or denied the report.