Is Leonardo da Vinci’s painting worth the $450 million price tag?

Written by Staff Writer at CNN London, Catherine Woods At $450 million it may seem a colossal sum of money, but it seems Leonardo da Vinci’s painting “Salvator Mundi” may not be the masterpiece…

Is Leonardo da Vinci's painting worth the $450 million price tag?

Written by Staff Writer at CNN London, Catherine Woods

At $450 million it may seem a colossal sum of money, but it seems Leonardo da Vinci’s painting “Salvator Mundi” may not be the masterpiece it is being touted as.

The painting was found among the remains of an earlier Da Vinci, hanging on a wall in a Munich museum and sold in 2017 for an unprecedented sum.

Now the Kunsthistorisches Museum (KVM) in Bern, Switzerland, has joined the debate surrounding the painting, casting new doubt over its authenticity.

A feature on the KVM website highlighted a series of claims from long-time art historian, Art Ministry expert and long-time Da Vinci expert Gianluigi Nemeto that appear to challenge the painting’s provenance.

The KVM and Nemeto are the newest entrants in a story that has seen previous faces such as The Da Vinci Research Project and Inverse confirm Nemeto’s claims — as well as a number of publications and commentators that have not.

The Kaetheological Society has also warned of painting discrepancies, telling CNN, “Given the volumes and caliber of ‘Salvator Mundi’s’ provenance, the KVM should take the pains necessary to understand the discrepancies. Fortunately, they say they have now.”

“The Salvator Mundi” at the Met Museum of Natural History in New York. Credit: Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Natural History

The painting in question was discovered among the remains of another known Da Vinci, known as “La Belle Ferronnière,” on March 15, 1996, according to the museum.

After a three-month analysis period the KVM agreed to put the discovery of the painting alongside the “La Belle Ferronnière” in the same section of the museum’s permanent collection alongside Leonardo’s “Il Salvator Mundi.”

The KVM claim that the copies are not “authentic copies,” but have been reproduced by collectors using techniques used in da Vinci’s work.

According to Nemeto, the painting of the “La Belle Ferronnière” is slightly damaged from the visit of thieves. He points to “weakeness in the knees, the high nose and furrowed brow of the left-hand side of the eyes” and also places them in profile, which contrasts to da Vinci’s “Impressionist” style depiction of the painting.

A previous report claims the “Salvator Mundi” is the missing painting in Leonardo’s studio.

Nemeto argues that both copies don’t match the style and style of the “Salvator Mundi” and differ in a number of areas.

He highlights how Leonardo struck a new pose while depicting the “La Belle Ferronnière” painting — at the same time that “the Salvator Mundi” includes multiple faces — as well as relating to a moment in its development during which, he points out, the La Ferronnière work diverges.

Nemeto believes the resemblance between the “Salvator Mundi” and its companion is due to handwriting and numbering.

The KVM claims the paintings’ creation differed markedly from the discovery of the “La Belle Ferronnière.”

In a previous report, Nemeto says that “The Salvator Mundi” is one of just four artworks to be made by Leonardo before his death. Although he admits that Leonardo died when the painting was “finished,” it’s not to say that the two works wouldn’t have been bound together before his death.

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