The Salvator Mundi is a mysterious painting, thought to be an almost forever-lost relic of aa Vinci. How was it ultimately discovered?
The Salvator Mundi was officially discovered in 2005, at a small art auction in Louisiana. It was originally thought to be a copy and was in terrible condition, but after restoration, it was revealed to be a da Vinci original.
Read on to learn more about the fascinating history behind this extremely valuable and almost-lost painting.
Almost By Chance
The history surrounding the Salvator Mundi is deep, mysterious, and riddled with confusion. The six hundred-year-old relic would ultimately become the most expensive painting ever sold at auction.
Reportedly, it was the find of a lifetime: the final painting from the legendary Leonardo da Vinci. It was well-known but had been considered lost for almost three hundred years.
While da Vinci’s most known successes are with painting, he only has twenty that are known today. He was allegedly an extremely slow painter and a perfectionist.
In fact, the Mona Lisa, arguably his most famous piece, took four years to paint. He died when he was sixty-seven years of age, which may explain his relatively small number of paintings.
The Salvator Mundi is thought to have been painted between 1490 and 1500. It became a favorite of da Vinci’s followers, and they were quick to make copies and studies of it.
This is where the original confusions begin, as the copies also entered circulation. The copy that was purchased at auction in 2005 was thought to be one of these copies.
The da Vinci original would be passed from pillar to post, being thought of as lost in the 17th century. The extensively copied painting wasn’t forgotten about, however, as the duplicates traveled the world.
Ultimately, a Salvator Mundi was auctioned off in Lousiana in 2005, as part of an estate breakdown. It was purchased for less than ten thousand dollars by a collector, who thought it was another copy.
It had been badly repainted and neglected over the years. However, he worked to restore and research the painting, spending the next six years working in secret.
It was fortunate that the Salvator Mundi was able to be fully restored. The earliest experts to work on the painting claimed that it was in a terrible condition.
In 2011, it was publicly revealed that it was the long-lost da Vinci masterpiece.
MVP: Most Valuable Painting
In the years following the announcement, the painting grew exponentially in value. In 2013, it was sold to a Swiss billionaire for around $80 million.
The painting was immediately re-sold by its new owner for a huge profit. It transitioned to a Russian owner, for $127 million.
In 2017, the painting changed hands for the last time, being purchased by a member of the Saudi royal family. They paid an incredible $450 million, the most a painting had ever been sold for at auction.
As of 2020, the painting hung in the Louvre, in Abu Dhabi.
The Salvator Mundi might be one of the most famous da Vinci paintings, but it isn’t the most valuable. That crown is bestowed to the Mona Lisa, worth almost a billion dollars in 2020.
Although a rather plain portrait, the Mona Lisa is one of the most scrutinized paintings in history. It has been analyzed countless times, with some experts looking for hidden messages.
Other valuable and well-known paintings from da Vinci include The Last Supper, Lady with an Ermine, and Annunciation.
In the modern age, most valuable paintings hang in museums and galleries around the world.
Although they’re often purchased by private buyers, they’ll end up being publicly viewable sooner or later. This is especially true with the Salvator Mundi, the last privately owned da Vinci.
There are countless celebrities and members of the super-rich elite who own originals – or valuable copies. Reportedly, Jay-Z and Beyoncé have a fondness for Michelangelo and Rembrandt.
It’s now assumed that all of da Vinci’s paintings have been accounted for. However, there is an underworld of art, and it’s likely the public will never know if another masterpiece is lurking under the surface.
Of course, as time goes on, these paintings will only rise in value. As they become older, they will need more care to ensure they don’t deteriorate.
Who can say how much a da Vinci will be worth in another hundred years?