When people fall into impasse, they wait for a savior. In 2019, Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Salvator Muni’ was sold for a record-shattering 500 billion won. “Salvator Mundi” is Latin for “savior”. The painting was bought by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salaman, to be exhibited at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Perhaps he had envisioned the famous Da Vinci painting to become a savior for Abu Dhabi to become a world-class cultural center. Did the painting fulfill the owner’s plans?
The painting depicts Christ gazing in front, making a sign of the cross with his right hand and holding a transparent crystal orb, which symbolizes heaven, in his left hand. The painting was created at the commission of Louis XII and was known to be taken to Britain when the French princess married Charles the First, but its whereabouts remained unknown for some time. The painting gained spotlight in 2005, when it appeared on auction in a severely damaged and repainted state. Art buyers in New York spotted the painting and bought it at 10,000 dollars. They did not know it was a Da Vinci then.
The painting was re-discovered as a savior’ in 2011. It was restored, acknowledged as a Da Vinci and exhibited at the National Gallery. There was debate on whether the painting was real, but those who argued that it was authentic outvoiced those in doubt. The price of the painting skyrocketed as it changed hands to Swiss art buyers and Russian millionaires. In 2018, the painting was sold for 450 million (around 520 billion won), its worth multiplying by 45,000 times in twelve years.
The debate on authenticity became more heated as the painting became the most expensive painting in the world. The legal debate between brokers and previous owners over the price has been ongoing for six years. Eventually the painting was not able to participate in the Louvre’s Da Vinci Special Exhibition in 2019 and disappeared from the public. The painting failed to become a savior and perhaps locked in an attic or yacht of those I power. Savior, where art thou?