Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi – the $450 million painting we wrote about back in April that had “vanished into thin air” – has finally re-surfaced – and you won’t believe where.
According to Kenny Schachter at artnet news, the painting is not only floating somewhere out at sea, but also may not be worth anywhere near the $450 million it last sold for, as it may not have even been painted by DaVinci himself.
A new book on the topic, “The Last Leonardo” reveals that the Salvator Mundi was likely painted by Leonardo’s studio, then possibly touched up by the master before it was brought to market. In other words, it may not be an actual DaVinci.
And who is the bagholder? None other than Saudi Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.
In fact, the claim that the painting was “previously in the collections of three kings of England”, used by a previous auctioneer of the painting, was also disputed in the book. This, however, didn’t stop what is being called a “cartoonish” and “foolish” bid for the painting of $450 million, said to have been placed by an intermediary to Mohammad Bin Salman.
The painting was then gifted to Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi, to be displayed at his local Louvre branch, before the painting was pulled from that planned showing, alongside of a planned showing at Paris’ Louvre.
It was then reported in late May that the Louvre wanted to attribute the painting to “the workshop of Leonardo da Vinci,” instead of to the artist himself. In early June, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Carmen Bambach stated that the work was mostly painted by “Leonardo’s assistant, Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio.”
Back in November 2017, we reported that the Mundi was driving the art world crazy because no one could verify its authenticity.
Which is why when the Louvre Abu Dhabi cancelled their showing in April 2019, it caught the eye of art world yet again. Not only that, but the museum’s culture department deflected questions at the time, with workers stating they did “not know where the painting [was]” according to Inquisitr.
Now, the painting is reportedly on Mohammad Bin Salman’s yacht, the Serene. The yacht was originally built in 2011 for the Russian vodka tycoon Yuri Shefler and then rented to Bill Gates for $5 million per week, before making its way to MBS by way of a reported 500 million Euro offer. It seems that MBS just can’t stop shelling out $500 million for things.
According to Schachter, the art will “remain onboard until MBS finishes transforming the ancient Saudi precinct of Al-Ula into a vast cultural hub—basically an art Disneyland—that will no doubt compete with Abu Dhabi’s Louvre”.
But the question is, given its attribution, will anyone want to see it?
The Abu Dhabi arrangement to show the painting was cloaked in mystery: nobody knew how the agreement was arranged, leading many to believe at the time that it was indeed Crown Prince Mohammed that bought it. Some speculated at the time that the painting purchase may have simply been a relatively easy way to launder half a billion dollars.
Prior to Schachter’s recent article, the last known stop for the painting was Zurich, when it was inspected by an insurance company before being shipped to “an unknown location” that we now know is floating at sea somewhere.