Antoine Witkin, director of the documentary which will be shown on the 13th of April on the “France 5” station, investigated this painting, which was bought by a New York art dealer in 2005 in poor condition for 1175 dollars and restored in the United States.
A number of British experts confirmed that it was indeed a da Vinci painting, and then it was sold to a Russian financier who then decided to resell it. It was then put up for sale in November 2017 at a contemporary art auction and was presented as an original painting by Leonardo da Vinci.
Although the authenticity of their lineage has been determined, some experts have expressed doubts about the role Da Vinci played in making them, as it is rare for artworks dating back to the nineteenth century to be auctioned, as most of them are on display in museums.
There has been much speculation since then about the identity of the buyer of the painting, which Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev put up for sale after he bought it at a price of $ 127.3 million in 2013. The auction was limited in the middle of the session to two unidentified parties who were bidding by phone.
Although the Saudi authorities have never confirmed that the Saudi crown prince, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is the owner of “the last painting of Da Vinci,” crossed information indicated that he purchased it through a series of middlemen.
The documentary quoted a source in the French administration as saying that the Saudis had asked France to verify whether the painting was of Da Vinci, as the Louvre Museum houses the C2RMF laboratory to analyze artworks. And the painting stayed there for three months.
The same source pointed out that the analysis showed that “Da Vinci only contributed to drawing the painting.”
The Saudi Crown Prince aspires to establish museums in the Kingdom, especially in the historic Al-Ula site, as part of his endeavor to embody modernity and cultural openness within the Saudi royal family.
According to the documentary, Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s acquisition of a Leonardo da Vinci painting may be a starting point for a prestigious art group that the kingdom does not yet own.
The painting “Salvatore Mundi”, representing Jesus Christ in blue, was long considered a copy before experts confirmed its authenticity. Today, it has become the most expensive painting in history among the antiques that were sold at auctions or outside such events.
It is believed that Da Vinci painted the painting, which is 65 cm long and 45 cm wide, around the year 1500 AD. According to experts, the painting was ordered by a French court, and it was also the property of English kings.
There was news that Da Vinci painted the painting for Louis XII of France and his wife, Anne, Duchess of Brittany. Salvatore Mundi is said to be one of Leonardo’s most famous paintings of which various copies were made by his followers including his pupil Salai.
Some of the copies differ greatly from the original, with a few, including those of his students Marco Dujiouno and Salai, portraying the subject matter more vividly.
After it reappeared at the end of the nineteenth century, it was long considered to belong to a contemporaneous Leonardo da Vinci.
It was sold for £ 45 in 1958 at Sotheby’s, and its lineage to the great painter was only confirmed in 2005.