Art and exposure
Where did the most expensive painting in the world go? Leonardo da Vinci Salvatore Mondi, sold for $ 450 million in 2017, is no longer in public, while France and Italy mark the 500th anniversary of the death of the Italian genius.
A few months before Leonardo da Vinci the Great Retrospective of this fall on the Louvre, the location of this painting is 65 x 45 cm, where Christ emerges from the darkness, blessing the world with one hand while holding a transparent globe in the world.The other remains a mystery.
The Louvre hopes it works for this exhibition. "The Louvre requested the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi table ready," confirms the Paris museum to AFP. But "we still do not have the answer," he adds, while persistent doubts about the authenticity of the piece.
Even today it is not clear who bought the painting.
According to Wall Street Journal, the buyer is the Saudi prince Bader bin Abdullah, acting on behalf of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has never confirmed or denied.
According to Artifrice, the world leader in the Art Rating Museum, the Alamo (theologians) of Cairo's Al-Azhar University warned against "MBS" to be presented for religious reasons: Jesus is considered a prophet, but the painting represents him as the Savior of the world. Impossible in Islam.
Other sources, including historians of religion, confirm this view.
Still, the Slaughter Mundi was presented last September at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a partner to the Paris Museum. But the Emirati Museum surprisingly announced the postponement of the exhibition.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the United Arab Emirates did not want to answer to AFP, but only promised that they "own" the painting.
Also, the International Council of Museums, which records deposit of works in museums, also did not want to confirm whether or not there was a procedure initiated between the Louvre Abu Dhabi and the owner of "Slaughter Mundi" for institutionalize the deposit.
On the current location of the painting, the experts interviewed are divided: some see it in the database of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, but others believe it never happened, it provokes "Beauze Museum".
These mysteries are added to the repeated doubts of some experts on paternity work, which could be realized by Leonardo's students, rather than by the master.
"Certain details do not deceive," such as the improper performance of a finger – "the rotation of the major on himself", "anatomically impossible" – even when Da Vinci was a great expert on the human body, Jacques Frank, an expert on the picturesque technique of the Italian genius.
"When the painting was painted (around 1500), Leonardo da Vinci did his work through his studio," he continues.
Daniel Salvatore Schiffer, a philosopher of art and critic of the subject, also "denies" the "paternity of painting": "When we analyze in detail, nothing is Leonardo, it is not in his mind."
Moreover, he says, "Salvater Mondi was never mentioned in the correspondence of Leonardo da Vinci, nor in that of his contemporaries.
Leonard "Draw It"
This controversy, which lasted more than a century, was recently renewed by the publication of the last Leonard, written by the English art historian Ben Lewis. The author assures that the National Gallery in London, which revealed the table in 2011, did not take into account the opinions of five experts who had a mandate to verify the table.
If two of them published a "positive opinion," they objected to one another, while the latter two did not, and the table was identified as authentic, Ben Lewis told AFP.
The National Gallery never mentioned doubts about the authenticity of the work.
"It was complicated to sell the work, many museums do not believe in the specialty," this painting was in a "bad", "damaged" state, continues Mr. Lewis.
Diane Modestini, who reconstructs the painting, does not "understand the differences" and promises: "Leonardo da Vinci painted it."
"When I was asked to do the reconstruction, I did not know who painted this painting, but it had to be a very big artist," says the American expert AFP, who recalled "the horrific situation of the work when she first examined it in April 2005.
"A geopolitical issue"
The doubts about the fatherhood of the painting "incite the painter" not to expose him until the experts agree, according to Mr. Frank.
"If the Louvre has not yet received a response to several months of exposure, the work will not be shown," he predicts. This is for him a "geopolitical issue."
The Louvre "can tarnish his credibility and reputation" by supporting work that gives rise to doubts, also sees Mr. Schiffer.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first museum to be named Louvre outside France, was inaugurated in November 2017 by French President Emmanuel Macaron and the powerful man of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The partnership between the two countries states that Paris brings its expertise, grants works of art and organizes temporary exhibitions against a billion euros. The Louvre's only concession until 2037 brings to the Paris Museum 400 million euros.
But the credibility of Christie, the auction house that organized the record auction, is also in the balance, according to experts.
"We adhered to a comprehensive study that led to the attribution of the table in 2010. There is no new discussion or speculation since the 2017 sale at Christie's has prompted us to examine this position," an AFP spokesman from the auction house said.
Without raising the mystery about the current position of the table of stars, he simply confirms that he was transferred "successfully" to its "new owner", "under the control of talented experts."