Is the $450m Salvator Mundi a fake? This film – featuring tearful sycophants, sneering experts, dodgy dealers and a secretive superyacht – may finally settle the great Da Vinci controversy
It is almost exactly 10 years since Salvator Mundi was unveiled, this “lost Leonardo” instantly triggering astonishment around the world. Since those giddy days, the work has had a turbulent time. As well as becoming the most expensive painting in history, going for $450m (£326m) at auction, Salvator Mundi was denounced by many as a fake and subsequently vanished from view. The painting is now the subject of The Lost Leonardo, a documentary by Andreas Koefoed that opens in cinemas this week.
“I would be surprised,” says Luke Syson, “if I went to see this documentary.” Syson is the curator who, back in 2011, first displayed The Saviour of the World, as its title translates, at the National Gallery’s Leonardo da Vinci blockbuster. Syson is probably making a wise choice. He’s in the film and the way he clams up mid-interview makes him look like the archetypal embarrassed expert caught out on screen.