In the world of Italian Renaissance art, one name stands out: Leonardo da Vinci. With the possible exception of Michelangelo, no other artist from the period continues to capture the public’s imagination. His Mona Lisa is among the biggest attractions in the Louvre. In 1962, the painting was assessed at $100 million dollars. In today’s pricing, that would be close to three-quarters of a billion dollars.
Because Leonardo holds such a firm grasp on the public’s imagination, few notions create more buzz than the reappearance of a lost work. This autumn the National Gallery in London will display a rediscovered painting, titled Salvator Mundi, which it will label “Leonardo da Vinci.” The exhibition opens November 9th, but the news was made public this week by the owners of the portrait.
The painting is now owned by a US consortium of art dealers but it was once in royal hands. Salvator Mundi was earlier owned by Charles I, who ascended to the thrown more than a century after Leonardo’s death. In 1900, it was purchased by Sir Frederick Cook whose descendants sold it in 1958 for just $72.00.
Last year a group of conservators who were handling the painting for the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg determined it was created by Leonardo Da Vinci. As a result of that assessment, the $72.00 painting is now worth close to $200 million dollars.