DMA Kicks the Tires on Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi

Somewhere deep in the bowels of the Dallas Museum of Art, there sits a very special painting. It is Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, an oil-on-wood painting that was lost for many years. A consortium of dealers owns the painting. Why is it in Dallas? The DMA is thinking about buying it. Director Maxwell Anderson confirmed: “We are actively exploring the possibility of acquiring it.”

How much might it cost? Well, back in 1958, when people thought a student of Da Vinci’s had painted it, Salvator Mundi sold for about $90. Not $90 million. Just 90 bucks. Now that its true provenance is known, it might cost something like $250 million.


  • RAB

    Uh, I think you got the wrong one. Either that, or the notoriously unreliable Wikipedia does:

  • JS

    And that’s why I don’t get art.
    Guy 1: “Oh, this is some POS painting by some dude that studied under Da Vinci.”
    Guy 2: “Yeah, it kinds of sucks. Is that Mona Lisa with a beard? I’ll give you 90 bucks for it.”
    Guy 1: “Ok. I’ll use the money to take my family to Outback for dinner.”
    Art Dude: “Hey, do you know this really is a Da Vinci.”
    Guy 2: “Ah, yes. I could tell that simply by the way the artist used light as he applied each stroke. This piece really was a paradigm shift for Leonardo. Quite frankly, it changed my opinion of him as a painter. I am quite please to own the first piece added to Da Vinci’s oeuvre in a century.”
    Art Dude: “I’ll give you $250 million for it.”
    Guy 2: “Great. That will take care of my family for generations.”
    Guy 1: “I’d like to shove this Bloomin’ Onion right up your ….”

  • @RAB: Yes, that is strange. The Daily Mail story that I linked to appears to have the wrong Salvator Mundi picture accompanying it. This CNN story clearly shows that the Wiki image is the right one. I swapped it out.

  • RAB

    Look, the Daily Mail is a Jolly Ol’ England rag. The Brits can’t spell simple words like defense or realize. Plus, their punctuation is all wrong. What do you expect?

  • D. Shapiro

    Anybody know where I can pick up some Da Vinci student works?

  • BG

    To the point raised by JS – there certainly is some of that in the pricing of art, but the story of this painting is a bit more complicated. What made this one difficult to identify wasn’t simply changing perceptions. In short, over the 500 years of it’s life it had be “repaired” and “improved” by other painters who painted over da Vinci’s original work. As they stripped away the added layers of paint the truth bore out – this is almost certainly the original and not a copy (as originally thought – not, by the way that it was a student’s piece).

  • Wm. B. Travis

    Dallas always profits from a good stripper!

  • Brian Roughton at his Heritage Gallery Tuesdays on Slocum talk mentioned this painting last night. Roughton claimed it is owned by dealers and has been authenticated. I asked him:
    “WHO AUTHENTICATED THE WORK?” Martin Kemp? and Roughton mumbled something about a committee for Leonardo. Really? He wouldn’t say WHO was on this committee. Maybe it was Peter Paul Biro the “fingerprint” authenticator with his associate Tod Volpe?? Roughton changed the subject and appeared to be uncomfortable. Isn’t the DMA subject to public transparency?

  • As I’ve heard, a great number of authorities, including Penny and Syson at NPG in London, Fahey and Christiansen at the Met, Brown at Wash Nat. Art Gallery, Marini from Milan, plus the assorted hangers on who generally jump on the band wagon after the fact. I’m not aware there was a committe per se. But of course if you know of Paul Biro you’re well enough read to know all the above as well. Let’s not be disingenuous, USARTCOP.

  • Andy Franks

    The painting has been completely authenticated by every Leonardo Da Vinci scholar in the world. Some years ago, when the possibility of the painting being real arose, experts from around the world were assembled to see the painting. To a man, all agreed that the painting was a Leonardo.

    I think that the DMA should acquire the painting. I think people would come from all over the world to see it.

  • Jennifer

    I just returned from Florence and can attest that the Mundi certainly looks like a DaVinci.

    One masterpiece across town, though, is somewhat questionable, in my opinion. I don’t think that the Michelangelo at the Kimbell is really a Michelangelo. If you spend any time in Italy, or take any time to study Michelangelo’s sketches and paintings, you’ll conclude that it doesn’t look like his work at all.