What was Leonardo da Vinci’s actual contribution to Salvador Mundi?

The authenticity of “Salvator Mundi”, the most expensive painting in the world, is again born in doubt. The work is attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, but for some time questions have been raised about his actual involvement with the painting. These are now reinforced by a French documentary.

The problem can also have diplomatic implications and can lead to differences between France and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi crown prince

“Salvator Mundi” was sold at Christie’s New York auction four years ago for a record $ 450 million. That new owner remained a mystery, but it was later reported that the artwork was purchased by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. However, the transaction has never been officially confirmed by the Saudi government.

“However, there have been questions about the authenticity of the work for some time,” the Agnes France Press (AFP) news agency said. “Those doubts reappeared when the painting did not appear three years ago at the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum, as it was said, though.”

The following year, the work also did away with retrospective on Leonardo da Vinci in Louvre, Paris. Now filmmaker Antoine Witkin’s documentary “The Savior for Sale” further investigates the problem. “

In the film, senior officials in the government of French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed that scientific analysis showed that although the work actually came from Leonardo da Vinci’s studio, the master made only a limited contribution to the realization of the painting.

However, that decision could be counted on very little understanding in Saudi Arabia. Mohammed bin Salman is said to have exerted a lot of pressure. He has said that Salvator Mundi has been demanded to be displayed next to the Mona Lisa. Salvador Mundi must also be 100 percent responsible for Leonardo da Vinci.

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money laundering

However, French government advisers would have argued that such intervention would lead to money laundering. “However, some members of the French government, including Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, are said to have lobbied for bin Salman,” the documentary said. “Eventually, there will be a possibility of a negative impact on the broader strategic and economic relationship between France and Saudi Arabia.”

But Macron eventually decided to reject bin Salman’s request. The President left it in the Louvre to negotiate with the Saudis about the presentation of the painting in the preceding. Ultimately, there was no agreement.

Art expert Chris Dercon said, “The Saudis are afraid of this debate about authenticity.” “They fear the public’s reaction, both domestically and in other countries, when it is discovered that a vast amount has been spent on a work of art that cannot ultimately be attributed to Da Vinci.”


Salvator Mundy was purchased fifteen years ago by a New York art dealer for just $ 1,175. The work was later restored to the United States, with many British experts verifying the authenticity of the painting.

Ten years ago, Salvator Mundi was also presented at the National Gallery in London as a work by Da Vinci. Two years later, the painting was sold to a Russian oligarch for $ 127.5 million.


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