The Salvator mundi is an oil painting on wood (65.6 × 45.4 cm) attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, datable to around 1499 and kept in a private collection in Abu Dhabi.
The painting was only made known to the public in 2011 on the occasion of an exhibition at the National Gallery in London where it was presented after a restoration that eliminated old repaintings.
The attribution has so far been confirmed by four international scholars, with unanimous opinions, but has been contested by other scholars such as Carmen Bambach, Michael Daley, Jacques Franck, Charles Hope, Carlo Pedretti, Charles Robertson and Frank Zöllner.
Its sale at Christie's in November 2017 at a cost of $ 450.3 million, including auction rights, made it the most expensive artwork in history purchased by a private individual. The buyer is the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism.
In 59 years, its prices have risen from 45 pounds to 450 million dollars. In the middle, the attribution to the magical hand of Leonardo da Vinci. And then mysteries, quarrels between critics, legal disputes. It is the story of Salvator Mundi, the most expensive painting ever auctioned, purchased in 2017 in New York by an anonymous buyer, who later revealed himself to be an emissary of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and destined for the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, where for reasons still obscure has never been exposed.
Meanwhile, someone doubts his paternity. This is the case of the American computer scientist Steven Frank and the art historian Andrea Frank who, as reported by the latest issue of The Art Newspaper, believe that Christ's right arm and hand raised in blessing are clearly the fruit of a brush different from that of the genius of Vinci. To say so, image recognition and classification algorithms, known to experts as “convolutional neural networks”, would have evolved.