In April, we learned that the Dallas Museum of Art had borrowed a rare Da Vinci painting that it was thinking about buying. It was called Salvator Mundi, and informed speculation put the purchase price at somewhere around $250 million. Now comes news that the DMA made an offer, but it wasn’t high enough. A press release from the DMA’s Jill Bernstein says:
The DMA made a formal offer to the painting’s owners, and following several weeks of negotiation, the owners decided to decline. The painting has been returned to them. While the Museum’s leadership was hopeful that the painting would be acquired for the benefit and enjoyment of the public, they are incredibly inspired by and grateful for the outpouring of community support for the campaign to acquire this work. Through the tremendous generosity and vision of its many patrons, the Museum was able to raise tens of millions of dollars for the campaign in just a few short months. The DMA is looking forward to working with its growing constituency on new opportunities in 2013.
I asked Bernstein an annoying number of follow-up questions:
I presume that tens of millions would not have been enough to purchase the work, right? People were speculating that it might fetch upwards of $250 million. Was that guess way off? If it wasn’t off, does that mean the DMA would have had to borrow money to complete the purchase? If so, what kind of institution would loan that sort of money for an artwork?
Her response came:
The Museum made a reasonable offer to the owners. We can’t comment on what offer they would accept and, as per Museum policy, we don’t discuss the purchase prices of acquisitions. However, in terms of what the Museum would have had to do to purchase, the Board of the DMA was prepared to finance part of the purchase price using multi-year pledges as collateral.