A $450 Million Da Vinci Painting Vanishes Into Thin Air

Back in November 2017, “Salvator Mundi,” a painting of Jesus that was controversially attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, was driving the art world crazy. Aside from its sky high price of $450 million and its sale to a bidder that many thought represented Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the painting's authenticity was also called into question.

Which is why when the Louvre Abu Dhabi cancelled a planned showing of the work this week, it caught the eye of art world yet again. Not only that, but the museum's culture department has deflected questions about the work and other museum workers have said that they "do not know where the painting is," according to Inquisitr.

The bottom line: the painting appears to have vanished into thin air.

French officials at the Louvre in Paris expected to get the painting for an exhibition later this year that will mark the 500th anniversary of Da Vinci's death. They hoped that the painting would surface prior to then, but so far, it hasn't. 

Dianne Modestini, an art professor at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts said: “It is tragic. To deprive the art lovers and many others who were moved by this picture — a masterpiece of such rarity — is deeply unfair.”

The Abu Dhabi arrangement to show the painting is also cloaked in mystery: nobody knows how the agreement was arranged, leading many to believe that it was indeed Crown Prince Mohammed that bought it. Some believe he may have changed his mind and may be simply keeping the painting to himself now. Others have speculated that the painting purchase may have simply been a relatively easy way to launder half a billion dollars.

The last known stop for the painting was Zurich, when it was inspected by an insurance company before being shipped to "an unknown location". After Switzerland, “the trail goes completely cold” Modestini said.

Martin Kemp, an Oxford art historian told the NY Times that the painting was “a kind of religious version of the ‘Mona Lisa’ and Leonardo’s strongest statement of the elusiveness of the divine.”

"I don’t know where it is, either," he said. Hopefully at least the Saudi Crown Prince does.