The Salvator mundi is not Leonardo’s: from April 13th the documentary about its background

Art and artworks’ authenticity, an endless saga.

And here we go, again.

The news that “Salvator mundi” was not created by the hand of Leonardo da Vinci is fresh from just a few days.

The painting, sold in November 2017 by Christie’s New York for the “modest” (we want to play down) sum of 450 million dollars to Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman, is the protagonist of an unpublished documentary entitled “The Savior for Sale” which tells its story and vicissitudes. The film, directed by Antoine Vitkine, will be released on April 13th.

In any case, already back in unsuspected times, before the famous auction, the painting did not have a clear history. According to the reconstruction proposed in the documentary, in 2005 the Salvator mundi was bought for a little over a thousand dollars by a New Yorkese art dealer, Robert Simon, who certainly did not expect it to be the artwork that could have changed his life. To open his eyes was Dianne Modestini, a friend of his and restorer, who after analyzing it was convinced that it was, in effect, made by the Renaissance genius.

From that moment on, the artwork’s vicissitudes began. Always surrounded by an aura of skepticism, it passed into the hands of various buyers – all very high-ranking, not even to say it – until it was auctioned in the autumn of 2017.


Salvator mundi at auction, Christie’s New York, 2017 – Courtesy of


The alleged masterpiece by da Vinci was then to be exhibited on occasion of an exhibition at the Louvre, held from October 2019 to February 2020, precisely about Leonardo.

Well, the artwork was not there.

The reason?

The French museum, after scrupulous scientific examinations, has not confirmed its authenticity. From what we learn in the documentary, the painting was literally x-rayed and scanned in every centimeter, the greatest specialists in the field were consulted and in the end the response was one: Leonardo only participated in its realization but was not the main author.

So, since both Louvre’s and France’s credibility must had been saved, after having informed the Saudis, the artwork – on the firm decision of President Macron – has never been exhibited.

Where it is now? It has disappeared from international radar and there is no news about its location, in which Salman’s vault, palace or yacht it’s locked.

The only certain thing is that it’s no longer worth $ 450 million.