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Is it by the master? Audience delivers verdict on Salvator Mundi at 'The Lost Leonardo' UK premiere

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The screening of The Lost Leonardo in London Gareth Harris

The screening of The Lost Leonardo in London Gareth Harris

An arty crowd turned out at the Curzon Mayfair cinema in London earlier this week for the premier of The Lost Leonardo, a long-awaited documentary which tells the “inside story” of the world’s most scrutinised painting, the $450m Salvator Mundi. Director Andreas Koefoed interviews key figures behind the juicy saga such as the conservator Dianne Modestini—who restored the painting extensively between 2005 and 2017—and the Swiss businessman Yves Bouvier who made $44.5m profit in a matter of days selling the work to the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. Revelations come thick and fast in the film, including further findings about the publication on Salvator Mundi which the Louvre printed and then withdrew days before the opening of its Leonardo exhibition in October 2019. In a lively Q&A after the Curzon screening with Koefoed and Alison Cole, editor of The Art Newspaper, panel chair Georgina Adam asked the audience to vote on a vital issue—is the painting by Leonardo alone, did he only make a contribution or is the master’s hand completely absent? Only four members in the packed audience believed that the work is solely by the master, which makes the National Gallery’s presentation of it as a full Leonardo in its 2011 show look a little (ahem) premature (most of the audience plumped for the “partially painted by Leonardo” option by the way). The Lost Leonardo, distributed by Dogwoof, goes on general release in the UK today.

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