Salvator Mundi painting claimed to be a fake
The Salvator Mundi, which was thought to be painted by Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci and sold for $450 million at Christie’s in New York in 2017, is now alleged by some to be a “workshop Leonardo,” painted by one of the artist’s studio assistants.
The painting is owned by a single individual, who is Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism has released a statement saying it had acquired the work for the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
The Emirati museum was scheduled to show the work last September but this display was cancelled with no explanation.
Since then, speculation about the painting’s authenticity has proliferated, the Art Newspaper has reported.
On Feb. 17 art historian Jacques Franck, a former conservation consultant to the museum, told the Sunday Telegraph that senior politicians and Louvre staff know that the Salvator Mundi is not a Leonardo.
He has reportedly written to French President Emmanuel Macron to warn him against inaugurating the Louvre’s Leonardo exhibition this autumn if the allegedly fake painting is included, which would be almost scandalous.
But a Louvre spokeswoman said MailOnline that Louvre has asked for the loan of the Salvator Mundi and wishes to present it in its October exhibition. “We are waiting for the owner’s answer,” she said.
“Franck was part of the scholars who have been consulted seven or eight years ago He is not currently working on the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition and has never been curator for the Louvre. His opinion is his personal opinion, not the one of the Louvre,” she added.
Last August reports emerged that Matthew Landrus, a research fellow at Oxford University’s Wolfson College, said the artwork was actually painted by da Vinci’s assistant Bernardino Luini, MailOnline reported.
The “Salvator Mundi,” which was painted in 1,500 and means “Savior of the World,” was the only one of the fewer than 20 paintings believed to be the work of the famed Renaissance Old Master when it went under the hammer.
The painting was declared authentic six years ago, after long being dismissed as a copy by one of Da Vinci’s students.