Why We Believe The Salvator Mundi Is A Da Vinci Painting

Jun 28,2018

Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) has announced that the worlds most expensive painting, Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi will go on display at the Louvre Abu Dhabi on September 18 this year. The painting was purchased last December at a Christie’s action in New York for US$450 million (Dh1.65 billion) by Saudi Arabia’s Prince Badr Al Farhan on behalf of Abu Dhabi DCT.

Here are some facts ahead of its public unveiling



Renaissance painter Leonardo da Vinci painted the Salvator Mundi (translation:Savior of the world) possibly for King Louis XII of France and his consort, Anne of Brittany. The work was only attributed to da Vinci in 2011, when it was included in the UK National Gallery’s blockbuster Leonardo exhibition.

In 2013 it was bought by a Swiss art dealer, Yves Bouvier, who sold it days later to Russian billionaire - Dmitry Rybolovlev for US$127.5 million in a private sale brokered by Sotheby’s, New York. Rybolovlev has since filed suit against Bouvier but a US court has dropped the charges since Rybolovlev himself made over $250 million from the final sale.

The restoration

Perhaps the real hero in this entire story is Dianne Dwyer Modestini. The Internationally renowned conservator of old master and nineteenth-century paintings chipped away at the poorly restored painting(pictured above) at her studio for over six years. In 2011 she told CNN “I wanted [to be sure] that none of my restorations had impinged on the original, that I had not done too much, because old pictures have to look old—if you take out every crack, every spot, every anomaly, they can easily look like a reproduction. Modestini currently serves as Research Professor, Kress Program in Paintings Conservation at New York University.


Is it really a da Vinci?

Heres the general consensus on why experts believe it to be the last undiscovered work by Leonardo da Vinci.

  • Brushstrokes by someone lefthanded like da Vinci.
  • Hair curls and the right hand are da Vinci trademarks
  • High res scans show hand imprints on the painting. da Vinci used to soften the painting with his right hand.
  • Canvas, frame and oil date back to late 1400 or early 1500 when da Vinci was painting
  • The Tunic design resembles a da Vinci drawing.
  • In the early 1500s only da Vinci had the skill to paint translucent glass.


For more info visit www.louvreabudhabi.ae