Photographic evidence revealed that its appearance had changed between its unveiling at the National Gallery in 2011 and its auction in 2017.

Salvator Mundi (supposedly) by Leonardo da Vinci

The world’s most expensive painting, Salvator Mundi, which was sold for a whopping $450 million in 2017, has since disappeared without a trace. The painting which was thought to be a piece from Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci is now rumoured to be fake. Gasp!

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da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, or Saviour of The World, is a small oil painting of Christ, with his right hand raised in benediction, a crystal orb representing Earth, resting in his left. The master has about 20 paintings which are his pieces, and this was said to be one of it. But, is it?

In 2017, Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism bought the 500-year-old painting at Christie’s in New York for $450 million, breaking auction records. The real buyer behind the purchase was rumoured to be  Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

While the painting was due to make its debut at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in September this year, the event has since been cancelled with no explanation, causing more speculations to its authenticity. The Louvre has said they will confirm later in the year if the painting will make its debut.

Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci

So why the doubts?

Interestingly, there have been questions raised about its extensive restoration. In December 2017, photographic evidence revealed that its appearance had changed between its unveiling at the National Gallery in 2011 and its auction in 2017.

Jacques Frank, a consultant to the Louvre said that the painting is not a ‘real Leonardo’ but instead it is a ‘workshop Leonardo’, painted by one of his assistants. And this fact is known by politicians at the highest levels and Lourve staff.

He added that France cannot afford the ‘humiliation’ of its world-class museum displaying a ‘workshop painting’ next to the other da Vinci paintings like the Mona Lisa. He has written to Emmanuel Macron, the French president, warning him against inaugurating the Louvre’s autumn Leonardo da Vinci exhibition if the Salvator Mundi, is to be included.

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He has told Macron that it would be ‘almost scandalous’.

Images: Stock photos