Met Expert Says $450M ‘Salvator Mundi’ Mostly Painted by Leonardo’s Assistant

In further news: trouble at the 58th Venice Biennale’s Lithuanian Pavilion; Lubaina Himid describes Turner Prize win as ‘bittersweet’

Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi (detail), c.1500, oil on walnut, 66 x 45 cm. Courtesy: Christie’s, London / New York

Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi (detail), c.1500, oil on walnut, 66 x 45 cm. Courtesy: Christie’s, London / New York

A leading Leonardo da Vinci expert and Metropolitan Museum of Art curator has said that Christie’s falsely suggested that she was among the scholars who attributed the Salvator Mundi to Leonardo. Carmen C. Bambach repeated her opinion that Salvator Mundi, which was sold by Christie’s in 2017 for USD$450 million, was largely painted by one of Leonardo’s assistants. Bambach went on to add that the Renaissance master likely only painted ‘small re-touchings.’ ‘I wasn’t really asked what I thought about the Salvator Mundi at the time,’ Bambach said. ‘If my name is added to that list, it will be a tacit statement that I agree with the attribution to Leonardo. I do not.’

The Lithuanian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale reportedly costs USD$3 per minute to run. Its organizers are struggling to keep performances of the ‘beach opera’ running, despite it winning the Golden Lion for the best pavilion at the Biennale last month and long queues forming outside the pavilion during its opening week. The three artists involved in the pavilion launched a crowdfunding campaign to assist in financing the project, which has so far raised USD$42,000. However, the immense cost of the project means that performances are only staged on Saturdays. The organizers hope that further donations will allow them to stage an additional mid-week performance.

Lubaina Himid, the first black woman to win the Turner Prize, has described the award as ‘bittersweet.’ Speaking to Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’, the artist explained that her success came only after generations of black women had been overlooked by the art world. ‘Being the first black woman was a bit bittersweet, because there are many black women that have been up for it in the recent history of the prize… I was happy to win it, but it was bittersweet,’ Himid said.

In gallery news: Paula Cooper Gallery in New York now represents Ja’Tovia M. Gary, with a solo exhibition planned for early 2020; and Marlborough has plans for an expanded space in New York’s Chelsea, due to open next year.

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