The Lost Leonardo | Reel world

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In theaters September 3

The parcel:

The most expensive painting ever sold, for $ 450 million in 2017, was the Salvator Mundi, which people thought was by Leonardo da Vinci and lost for 500 years. This documentary tells the inner story of the global art market and how controversy and the quest for authentication has become a mixture of politics, power and greed.

Lynn’s point of view:

A fascinating mystery set in the high-stakes global art world, “The Lost Leonardo” explores the drama surrounding the Salvator Mundi, which means “Savior of the World” in Latin, an oil painting of Jesus Christ on a walnut panel.

Is this the real long lost Leonardo da Vinci or a fake, and where exactly is he now? The painting has sparked controversy since it surfaced at a New Orleans auction house and was purchased by a consortium of art dealers in 2005. Bob Simon, who specializes in Old Masters, was one of the buyers.

We are talking about the world’s most famous artist of the Italian High Renaissance, whose best known paintings “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper” attract huge audiences to see his works to this day. Fewer than 20 of its originals have survived.

The painting, said to have been made around 1510, shows Jesus in a blue Renaissance robe, making the sign of the cross with his right hand, while holding a crystal globe in his left hand. When it was rediscovered in America, it was heavily repainted and looked like a copy due to its low quality.

Simon entrusted it to the famous restaurateur Dianne Modestini. In great detail, she explains the work she did, the state of the painting when it arrived and her regrets that the facts could not be more definitive. She really wanted it to go to a museum.

In 2017, the painting was acquired by Prince Badr bin Abdullah on behalf of the Abu Dhabi Ministry of Culture and Tourism for the Louvre Abu Dhabi, during an auction at Christie’s in New York. The painting sold for $ 400 million, including $ 50.3 million in fees.

It is currently believed to be owned by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammad bin Salman, commonly known as MBS, and is in storage.

What happened in the 12 years between 2005 and 2019, when the Louvre in Paris planned it for a special exhibition, is as intriguing as a pot-au-feu fiction, comprising a shady Swiss art dealer and a Russian oligarch. The Louvre had said they had examined it scientifically and historically.

Director Andreas Koefoed methodically presents experts, academics, journalists and skeptics as an international panel of talking heads. He does a good job navigating through the intricate nature of “The Art Game” and “The Money Game”, two chapters of the film. It follows the money and how the origin remains murky.

The Louvre in Paris and the National Gallery in London did not consent to the interviews.

The world, it seemed, wanted to believe in his authenticity, but questions were mounting. The sensationality, as covered in the media, faded, but was at its peak.

Former FBI artistic crime scholar Robert King Wittman asked, “Why would anyone pay that kind of money for a play that asked about it is very strange.” “

But how would a painting that has been missing for 500 years appear in New Orleans? It’s just a question. After its restoration, others weighed in on the dispute. The National Gallery and the Dallas Museum of Art exhibited it, believing it to be real.

The documentary, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in June, is one of two feature films released this year about the controversial painting. “Savior for Sale: Da Vinci’s Lost Masterpiece?” By Antoine Vitkine, which will be available on video on demand on September 17th.

As this documentary shows, curiosity remains.


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