The Saudi Royal Family May Have Paid $450 Million For A Fake Leonardo da Vinci Painting… A Painting That Sold For $1,000 In 2005

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In November 2017, Christie’s public sale home provided a 500-year-old portray to the very best bidder. Formally titled “Salvator Mundi”, however, nicknamed the “male Mona Lisa”, a 20-minute bidding conflict waged between a half dozen patrons from all around the world. Bids, which went up in $10 million increments, had been made by billionaires and museum curators in China, the US, Qatar, Russia, and Saudi Arabia.

Earlier than the public sale opened, the 500-year-old Leonardo da Vinci portray was estimated to promote for $100 million.

The ultimately profitable bid?

$450 million

That worth greater than doubled the previously-held document for the most expensive piece of artwork bought at public sale.

The earlier document for a public artwork public sale was $179 million paid in 2015 for Pablo Picasso’s 1955 piece “Ladies of Algiers (Model O)”. The customer was former Qatari prime minister, Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani.

The $450 million buy additionally considerably topped the previously-held document for a non-public artwork sale. The earlier identified document for a non-public sale was $300 million paid in 2015 for a Paul Gauguin. The customer in that case was a museum in Qatar.

After the smoke cleared, the winner of the $450 million da Vinci public sale was revealed to be the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, AKA “MBS”.

There’s now a teeny tiny drawback with MBS’ $450 million “Salvator Mundi”.

Upon nearer investigation, it might not truly be a 100% genuine da Vinci.

This declare is in response to a brand new documentary known as “The Savior for Sale”.

Within the documentary, artwork analysts allege that though the portray was produced in one in every of da Vinci’s workshops, the legendary genius might need, at most, solely “contributed” to the portray.

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FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP through Getty Photographs


That is how a lot “Salvator Mundi” would have a price you in 2005.

“Salvator Mundi” was bought for simply $1,175 in 2005 by an artwork seller in New York. That is not a typo. You might have purchased this $450 million portray for a bit of greater than half a “stimmy” test simply 16 years in the past. After the present process of restoration, it was authenticated by a number of British artwork consultants as a long-lost da Vinci.

It was then displayed at London’s Nationwide Gallery as such. It bought in 2013 to a Russian oligarch for $127.5 million.

The oligarch was the vendor in 2017 when MBS scooped it up for $450 million.

The portray has not been seen publicly for the reason that sale. Most individuals assumed it was hanging on the wall of some Saudi fortress or being saved at a highly secure artwork warehouse in Switzerland.

In actuality, it was certainly hanging on a wall. However not in a fortress… on MBS’ $500 million yachts “Serene”:

And whereas Serene does have two helipads, a climbing wall, a dozen luxurious cabins, and three swimming pools, the artwork world was shocked to study that is the place a da Vinci was being saved. A yacht, even one which price $500 million, seemingly doesn’t have the required temperature controls or safety from salty air wanted to retailer a 500-year-old portray.

After profitable the public sale in 2017, the unique plan was to show the portray on the Louvre Abu Dhabi in the neighboring United Arab Emirates for around two years. Then in late 2019, the portray was to be moved to the Louvre in Paris which was unveiling an enormous exhibit to mark the five hundredth anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s dying.

A curator on the Louvre deliberate to show a historical past of the portray that included analysis which his staff confirmed da Vinci at the very least painted the Christ determine within the portray.

That information was very well-received again in Saudi Arabia. It might primarily be an everlasting stamp of approval proving they didn’t pay $450 million for a pretend to portray.

The documentary, “The Savior for Sale” claims that some members of the French authorities lobbied on behalf of Bin Salman, as a result of a priority over the strategic and financial relationship between France and Saudi Arabia.

In the long run, President Macron denied Salman’s request to present the portray an official stamp of approval from his authorities.

This left it to the Louvre to barter with the Saudi royal household.

Then a second main bone of competition popped up between the Louvre and MBS.

This bone of competition was associated with the precise placement of the portray on the Louvre.

MBS insisted he portray be displayed almost side-by-side with da Vinci’s most famous masterpiece, the “Mona Lisa”. The Louvre refused, arguing that the Mona Lisa is held in a custom-constructed room that may barely accommodate the 30,000 everyday guests she sees at the moment.

A compromise was not reached and MBS’ da Vinci has shuttled again to an undisclosed location in Saudi Arabia the place it’s going to in the end be displayed in a yet-to-built native museum.

As of this writing, there has not been a 100% conclusion on the portray’s authenticity.

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