Leonardo expert: "The Salvator Mundi? Almost all by Boltraffio. And it was not a good investment."

For Carmen Bambach, an expert on Leonardo da Vinci, the Salvator Mundi is almost all the work of Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio. And it was not a good investment.

Freewheeling to the Guardian, art historian Carmen Bambach, curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and among the world’s foremost experts on the art of Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci, 1452 - Amboise, 1519), spoke. The subject of the discussion is the world-famous Salvator Mundi, the most expensive work ever to go to auction, which fetched $450 million at auction in November 2017: the auction house Christie’s, in its catalog entry, had cited Bambach among the experts who had studied the work in London in 2008. Christie’s had then written that the study had resulted in a “broad consensus that the Salvator Mundi was painted by Leonardo.”

Bambach, however, denies ever attributing the work to the master from Vinci. According to her, much of the work is due to one of Leonardo’s assistants, Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio (Milan, 1467 - 1516), and the Tuscan artist would actually have made only “minor retouches” to the painting. Bambach’s idea is based on several factors, including the state of preservation of the work, which is very damaged according to the scholar. In addition, the expert also rejects the idea that the Salvator Mundi was painted around 1500 and was present in the collection of Charles I: in fact, nothing certain is known about the work until the mid-19th century, when it first appears in documents. And as for the price at which it was sold, Bambach is lapidary: “in my opinion, it was not a good investment.”

Pictured is Salvator Mundi attributed to Leonardo da Vinci (c. 1499; oil on panel; 65.6 x 45.4 cm; Private collection)

Leonardo expert:
Leonardo expert: "The Salvator Mundi? Almost all by Boltraffio. And it was not a good investment."

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