arts and design

Revisited: Leonardo da Vinci and the mystery of the world's most expensive painting. Podcast

This week we are revisiting some of our favourite episodes from throughout 2020. This episode was first released on 22 May 2020

A long-lost painting authenticated as the work of Leonardo da Vinci was sold for a world record price of $450m in a dramatic auction in New York in 2017. The price stunned the art world and created a storm of attention for a painting that had only been rediscovered in 2005.

The art historian and writer Ben Lewis tells Rachel Humphreys of his quest to chart the remarkable story of the painting, now believed to be in the collection of the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

The painting has been described as a devotional counterpart to the Mona Lisa, Leonardo’s most famous work, and is said to have an “extraordinary, communicative presence”. But as Lewis, the author of the acclaimed book The Last Leonardo, explains, questions remain about its origin. Last year, the painting did not appear in the Louvre’s blockbuster Leonardo exhibition, prompting widespread speculation and the question: where is Salvator Mundi?

FILE - In this Oct. 24, 2017 file photo, an employee poses with Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" on display at Christie's auction rooms in London. Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism announced Monday, Sept. 3, 2018, that the unveiling of the "Salvator Mundi" at the Louvre Abu Dhabi has been indefinitely postponed. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

Photograph: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

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