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The Salvator Mundi became the most expensive painting ever after selling for $450.3m at auction in 2017. It was presumed missing but it was recently found.
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Missing Salvator Mundi Found on a Yacht

Lewis Findley
Lewis Findley

Salvator Mundi Has Been Found!

The Salvator Mundi is one of the most fascinating paintings to ever resurface.

Despite being authenticated as the genuine article, there are still pockets of experts who are convinced it's not by the High Renaissance master.

These concerns didn't resonate with buyers because the auction record was obliterated. The Salvator Mundi became world news - and the most expensive painting ever sold in auction after selling for $450.3m. 

The featured image from Quartz illustrates how tight security was for the artwork while it was on display! 

The winning bidder wasn't announced for a while and turned out to be the department of culture and tourism in Abu Dhabi. It was expected to be unveiled to mark the launch of The Louvre Abu Dhabi in September 2018 but it was postponed with no explanation.

Salvator Mundi Presumed Missing

The news of its failure to be unveiled only generated more fire.

What didn't help was the revelation that the Louvre requested the painting for their upcoming Autumn 2019 exhibition, to mark the 500th anniversary of Da Vinci, but they received no reply. 

However, in June 2019, the painting was found! But, it was on a Yacht.

Salvator Mundi Found on a Yacht

When the only Da Vinci work in private hands goes missing, it's inevitably going to create news. 

These concerns were somewhat cooled when Artnet reported the news that it was installed on Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Superyacht, Serene.

Image Via - BEAM

A magnificent Superyacht, it's worth €500m. The painting was reportedly flown to the Serene and installed. 

However, this practice is normal and we'll talk about that more in a future article.

Now that the painting is safe and sound, what are the experts questioning?

Is The Salvator Mundi Genuine?

Image Via - The Jakarta Post

$450.3m is a remarkable price for a painting but it received just as many complaints!

Now, you can't fault them.

For starters, there's a loss of provenance of around 200 years. In addition, it was painted over, attributed to pupils or followers and extensively restored. However, experts do believe he was 'involved' in it.

You know it's called the Salvator Mundi but what does it mean?

What Does The Salvator Mundi Mean?

Salvator Mundi is Latin for 'Saviour of the World' and was painted during the High Renaissance with estimates ranging from 1490 - 1500.

It depicts Jesus holding an orb which symbolises the Earth and crossing his fingers in the form of a blessing. 

It's said to have tones of eschatology which is the destiny of mankind. 

What's The History of The Salvator Mundi?

This is the fun part because where do you begin? It's a bit like explaining the order of the Star Wars movies.

So, it's believed to have been painted during the High Renaissance by Da Vinci's follower Bernadino Luini. 

From 1625, a fascinating journey started. It's said that the painting came with Henrietta Maria of France when she married Charles I. The King was later executed in 1649 at the end of the English Civil War.

Just two years later, it was sold to pay off a debt but Charles II reclaimed it in 1660. The next 100 years is a bit blurry but it was auctioned in 1763 and then disappeared off the face of the Earth until Francis Cook, a viscount, bought the painting in 1900. 

Upon buying the painting, it was damaged from previous attempts of restoration and was attributed to Luini instead of Da Vinci. It was sold in auction for £45 in 1958 but wound up in Louisiana around 50 years later. Crucially, the painting was attributed to someone else, Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio, a pupil of Da Vinci until 2011. 

A consortium bought it for $10,000 and embarked on a journey of extensive restoration before it was authenticated as a work by Da Vinci after 6 years of analysis.

Final Words

Leonardo Da Vinci remains one of the most famous painters to ever walk the Earth. You can certainly understand the concerns from experts regarding authenticity.

However, something is only worth as much as you're willing to pay for it. In the case of the Salvator Mundi, it was a record price. 

If the Louvre was to secure the painting, should it be displayed in the midst of this speculation? Hit the comments and let us know!

On a final note, The Salvator Mundi is the subject of a lawsuit between its former owner, Dmitry Rybolovlev, and Sotheby's over what he claims to be 'the biggest art fraud in history'. The Russian is seeking $380m in damages from the auction house.

Watch this space.

Head back to The Journal for more stories.