The Lost Leonardo

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Forum on European Culture

Andreas Koefoed
running time
Denemarken, Frankrijk
In 2005, an oil panel depicting Christ attracts the attention of two art dealers. Behind the shoddy restoration, they believe they see the hand of a master. For $1,157, they buy the work. Within 12 years, it is worth $450 million. The most expensive painting ever sold.

The Lost Leonardo by Danish filmmaker Andreas Koefoed tells the unlikely story behind the Salvator Mundi, a long-lost painting said to be the work of Leonardo da Vinci. From the moment it is bought in an obscure New Orleans auction house, the Salvator Mundi’s fate is determined by politics, greed and power.

It is an incredible story that develops like a suspenseful detective. As the price rises, so does the question of the artwork’s authenticity. Has restorer Dianne Modestini been particularly successful in replicating Da Vinci’s style? Art critics are sceptical, but the stakes are high. In any case – even before consulted art experts agree – the painting will be presented as a genuine Da Vinci at the Leonardo exhibition at the National Gallery in London in 2012. Dizzying sums are offered, and the painting changes hands until no one knows where it is any more.

The Lost Leonardo is a fascinating story about the most expensive painting ever sold. A revealing and exciting film about the world of the art trade and the hidden interests of powerful art institutions, politicians and the richest of the rich.