What once was lost now is found… and it’s gonna cost you a bundle to enjoy it…
The Lost Leonardo follows a neglected painting that shook the art world when one of the world’s top restorers believes it to be an authentic Da Vinci. Known as the Salvador Mundi, the painting is first purchased for a mere $1 175 in a New Orleans auction house and in poor condition but has all the traits of the master himself. As a result, while not everyone is convinced, the painting is refurbished and quickly builds notoriety amongst the artistic community as a here-to undiscovered piece of the legacy of Da Vinci. From there, the painting continues to increase in value at an exponential rate, eventually resulting in its record-breaking sale to a mysterious buyer.
The Lost Leonardo is a fascinating look at the machinations of the art world. Directed by Andreas Koefoed, this documentary highlights the high stakes of an industry that really does play by its own sets of rules. Despite the earnest attempts by some to preserve art history, Koefoed points out that deception and selfishness can easily dictate who holds history within their hands—and at what price.
What’s most interesting about Leonardo though isn’t necessarily the skeezy backroom dealings and underhanded trickery but rather why these power players place their value in the ways that they do. With hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, Leonardo demonstrates the arbitrary nature of assigned value and how personal motivations dictate where the invest their capital. While there are many who would view these obscene amounts of money as misplaced, those who are involved feel like the battle over the (potentially) lost work of one of art’s greatest masters is well worth their savings. To these investors, owning the ‘Lost Leonardo’ represents much more than art. As the world’s wealthiest climb over each other to own history, the meaning stems from what it means to others and how it bolsters their appearance and global importance.
To them, it means prestige, notoriety and power.
However, at the same time, those who truly care about the painting most may be those who want to preserve its purity. Widely regarded as one of the greatest artists in history, Da Vinci’s work has inspired people for hundreds of years and the prospect of finding any new pieces is very exciting. For those in the art world, the financial value of the piece is almost irrelevant. Instead, they focus on Da Vinci himself. Da Vinci matters because there’s value that lies in the unique story that he may be telling about the way he sees people and the world. Instead of power and prestige, those in the arts community recognize that this sense of authenticity and historical importance are what matters most.
His story is an invaluable part of our story.
As such, this debate over value becomes more essential to the heart of The Lost Leonardo than any particular number or price. Even though those sorts of financial dealings are the things that make headlines, Leonardo reminds the viewer that it’s the historical soul of the piece that’s ultimately much more important.
The Lost Leonardo is available on demand on Friday, August 27th, 2021