According to new reports, curators at the Prado museum have just officially downgraded Salvator Mundi, the famous painting that was always previously attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. Accordingly, this means that research conducted by the curators has determined that da Vinci himself did not paint this painting in particular; however, the canvas also sold under the assumption that it was a fully authentic painting by da Vinci in 2017. The painting was sold by Christie’s to Prince Badr bin Abdullah, the culture minister of Saudi Arabia, for $450 million. It’s as yet unclear what actions will be taken in the wake of the painting being downgraded.
In an essay written for a corresponding exhibition catalogue, Prado curator Ana Gonzáles Mozo wrote that “some specialists consider that there was a now lost prototype [of Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi] while others think that the much debated Cook version is the original.” Mozo also states that “there is no painted prototype” by Leonardo da Vinci.
This is also an issue for the arts community because Ben Lewis, the author of The Last Leonardo, recently made a splash when he announced that he would be making a minted NFT version of Salvator Mundi. “If it doesn’t sell, I want to at least draw attention to the crazy excesses and injustices of the art market where families, who are unaware of the complexities of the art market, sell heirlooms for small change and receive no resale fees when the work turns out to be a sleeper, the art market term for an undiscovered and undervalued old master painting,” Lewis said at the time.
Unfortunately, his altruistic ambitious don’t mean much if it ends up turning out that the painting truly was never a da Vinci in the first place.