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World’s Priciest Painting By Da Vinci Was Feared Missing, But Might Be Safe Now
By Mikelle Leow, 11 Jun 2019
Image via Wikimedia Commons (public domain)
Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi was sold at a surprising US$450 million by the Saudi Crown Prince in 2017, making it the most expensive painting in the world. However, the artwork has not been seen by the public since then, raising suspicions that it could have gone missing.
The masterpiece was scheduled to be displayed at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, as well as promised as a loan to the Louvre in Paris for an exhibition commemorating the great artist’s 500th death anniversary. Fears of the painting being missing flared up when both pledges were retracted.
There’s finally word of Salvator Mundi’s whereabouts. According to Artnet News’ columnist Kenny Schachter—who cited “two principals involved in the transaction”—the Old Master painting is sitting in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s 439-foot superyacht, Serene.
As of May 26, the watercraft was located in the Red Sea off the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, and while the environment might not be ideal for the fragile 500-year-old artwork, Time notes that it’s pretty common for the rich to adorn their yachts with art as prizes.
The painting will purportedly stay aboard the superyacht until a cultural hub in Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ula region has been established. This means it will take awhile before Salvator Mundi sees the light of day, as the plan was still in an “exploratory phase” as of December 2018.
The masterpiece portrays Jesus Christ as savior of the world, holding a crystal ball depicting the cosmos. It has been likened by art historian Martin Kemp to a “religious version” of Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
Given the painting’s steep price, it has been fodder for conversation and analysis within the art world. Previously, it was suspected to be fake, but another theory suggests that Salvator Mundi was the work of Da Vinci’s helper; the artist himself was believed to have only contributed to 20 to 30 percent of the painting.
[via Time, images via various sources]
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