World news – Saudi Arabia refused to lend the « Salvator Mundi » to the Louvre because it was not shown next to the « Mona Lisa », according to a report


The plot thickens around the Salvator Mundi, the most expensive painting in the world, and the mystery of why the Louvre did not include it in its blockbuster exhibition Leonardo da Vinci 2019.

A new documentary, The Savior for Sale, which premieres on French television tomorrow night, claims the museum refused to comply with Saudi Arabian demands that the work be autographed, according to anonymous French officials. The artist merely contributed to the painting.

But one The New York Times story contradicts this claim. According to a Louvre report obtained from the Times, the museum had no doubts about the authenticity of the work. The real problem is that Saudi officials demanded that it be shown next to the Mona Lisa, which the curators refused to allow.

“In general, the museum world and the specialized art historians and curators never really had any doubts about the authenticity of the painting « Dealer Robert Simon, who played a key role in rediscovering the work after it surfaced in a property sale in 2005, said Artnet News in an email.

 » There were of course a few outliers, but most of the scholarly discussions had to do with the date, user, iconography and workshop attendance if any, « he added.

The newly leaked report – from a planned Salvator Mundi book that came from was dragged from the Louvre’s souvenir shops when plans to exhibit the work failed – would have confirmed the painting as an authentic Leonardo. The Center for Research and Restoration of the French Museums is said to have made this determination based on a week-long forensic examination using fluorescent X-rays, infrared scans and high-resolution microscopes.

« The results of the historical and scientific study presented in this publication make it possible allow us to confirm the assignment of the work to Leonardo da Vinci, « wrote Jean-Luc Martinez, President of the Louvre, in the introduction.

In the canceled publication, the Saudi Ministry of Culture was also identified as the owner of the painting. It is widely believed that the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, bought the Christie’s New York facility for a record $ 450 million in 2017.

The Louvre drew its book on Leonardo there Vinci’s Salvator Mundi. Photo courtesy of the Louvre.

However, a power struggle developed because the Louvre didn’t think it was a good idea to display the painting next to the Mona Lisa. The Louve’s most famous painting should stay on top of the rest of the Leonardo exhibition to cater to the regular crowds. Additionally, adding another important work to the gallery would have been too much of a security challenge.

The Saudis eventually withheld the painting and the Louvre withheld its assessment, causing a storm of doubts about the work.

(A planned gig at the Louvre Abu Dhabi has also been canceled, and the painting, which has not been on public display since it was sold, is said to be on board the prince’s yacht, the Serene.)

Antoine Vitkines The Savior for Sale will premiere on French television on April 13th. Image © Zadig productions / FTV.

But Antoine Vitkine, the director of the new film, stands by his version of events and suggests to La Tribune del ‘Art that the book be produced as a contingency plan if the government agrees to bow to Saudi demands to show the painting as authentic.

« It is of course unfortunate that the painting is from the Louvre exhibition, but that does not reflect the painting badly, » said Simon. « In fact, it likely only adds to the fame and appeal of the painting, and will only generate more interest in it when it is shown at some point, wherever and whenever it may be. »

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