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REVIEW: The Lost Leonardo

The Lost Leonardo Review

The Lost Leonardo is a documentary film focusing on the last alleged Leonardo work, the Salvator Mundi. It’s a highly debated painting, as the circumstances surrounding the discovery of this Leonardo are suspect, to be kind. The commentary includes Art Historians, Restorationists, Leonardo Experts, Curators, and other people that deal in the art world.

Honestly, I was there to watch the above groups throw shade at each other. I am really into art, and love watching documentary series/films on things like this. Again, the circumstances are shady, the painting was found at auction in New Orleans, and was bought by two dealers/investors for around $5000.  When it’s sent to a Restorationist, she makes the miraculous discovery that the painting isn’t just from the studio of Leonardo, but by the master himself. But you must think about it, what would a Leonardo be doing in the USA? Why did it stay hidden so long? The painting was also severely damaged, and I agree with the sceptical experts, I think the Restorationist painted most of it.

The Lost Leonardo Review

To validate that this copy of the Salvator Mundi was legitimately a Leonardo, the owners of the painting go to the National Gallery in London to have it examined by Leonardo experts from all over the world. After this examination, I don’t believe the experts flat out said, yes, this is a Leonardo. The curator at the National Gallery seemed to take a verbal consensus. Now, that is extremely problematic, to proclaim that something is indeed by a Master, without written consensus. It also typically takes years for attributions to occur. Was this specifically done so the painting could be sold at auction for millions of dollars?

The Lost Leonardo Review

The painting has gone on to be one of the most expensive paintings auctioned ever. The documentary pivots to the art market in general, and how wealthy people use art as an investment for their funds. The funds invested may or may not be legitimate, and the art market can serve as a money-laundering scheme. To avoid taxes on the highly valuable investments, the art is kept at freeports. The freeport scheme was recently introduced to the public in Christopher Nolan’s TENET.

The Lost Leonardo Review

I am glad this documentary included this aspect of the art world because it was pertinent to the Salvator Mundi. The Salvator Mundi has disappeared from public view, allegedly purchased by a Saudi Prince. There was some buzz as to whether it would be displayed as part of the Leonardo exhibition at the Louvre. The display of the painting, alongside Leonardo’s other works, to include the Mona Lisa, would have solidified its place in Leonardo’s repertoire, as the Louvre did extensive testing on the painting. The painting did not show because of ridiculous demands from the owner, such as having it displayed next to the Mona Lisa.

I really liked this documentary, overall. There was probably some sort of money scheme associated with the attribution, and the restoration. The Restorationist did attempt to vindicate herself, but I wasn’t convinced. The whole thing was shady, and I ended up rolling my eyes at this chick. If you’re into art, it’s a must-see documentary.

The Lost Leonardo Documentary | 96min | September 10, 2021 (United Kingdom) 7.6
Director: Andreas KoefoedWriter: Andreas Dalsgaard, Christian Kirk Muff, Andreas KoefoedStars: Martin Kemp, Jerry Saltz, Dianne Dwyer ModestiniSummary: The Lost Leonardo is the inside story behind the Salvator Mundi, the most expensive painting ever sold at $450 million. From the moment the painting is bought for $1175 at a shady New Orleans auction house, and the restorer discovers masterful Renaissance brushstrokes under the heavy varnish of its cheap restoration, the Salvator Mundi's fate is determined by an insatiable quest for fame, money and power. As its price soars, so do the questions about its authenticity: is this painting really by Leonardo da Vinci? Unravelling the hidden agendas of the richest men and the most powerful art institutions in the world, The Lost Leonardo reveals how vested interests in the Salvator Mundi are of such tremendous power that truth becomes secondary.

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Erika Johnson
I'm a Data Analyst, from the land of Matthew McConaughey. I'm an avid movie-goer and love seeing films in theaters. My most recent favorite films are Good Time, Only Lovers Left Alive, TENET, and England is Mine. When I'm not at the movies, I'm either reading or watching obscene amount of true crime and historical documentaries.