Can Anyone Loan Me $450 Million?
I bring this up because of a news item from a couple of weeks ago where a painting assumed to be by Leonardo Da Vinci was sold at auction for a whopping $450.3 million dollars. THAT is what I mean by “huge sums of money.” I can’t imagine how many lunches I would have to skip to get into that game.
The painting in question, “Salvator Mundi” – “Savior of the World” exists in a cloud of Doubt versus Marketing. According to Christie’s auction house, which conducted the sale, “There is extraordinary consensus that it is by Leonardo.” Other experts on Leonardo’s work say, “The composition doesn’t come from Leonardo. It’s a good studio work with little Leonardo at best…” In other words “Maybe…maybe not, but there are serious doubts and I’m not selling the farm to buy it.”
Unless I can watch the Artist actually put the paint on the canvas or board or whatever, there is always doubt about its true provenance. The world of Art Forgery is massive. There are some incredibly talented Artists who can fool even the most learned of experts and they do it every day. There are some interesting books out there about and by Art Forgers. In fact, I am FB Friends with one.
This painting was the only Da Vinci in Private hands and those hands belonged to a Russian Billionaire named Dmitry Ryboloviev. I don’t know how he became a Billionaire and I’m not going to ask. Whoever the buyer at $450.3 million bucks turns out to be I hope they have the sense to properly care for it and didn’t buy it just because it matches their drapes. A true Da Vinci or not this is a very old painting in bad shape and in need of TLC by the carload.
I don’t purport to be an Art expert and I didn’t play one on TV. I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn. I was raised surrounded by painters and Art and I did develop a fine appreciation for the medium. I have no talent myself. I took lessons for years and I became so frustrated by my inability to get the paintbrush to make the magic I saw in my head go down onto the canvas.
Art is like the cliché about beauty – it truly is in the eye of the beholder. That is why there are all those different paintings on the walls. My taste range from the paintings on cave walls, to the Old Masters, up through the New Masters and on into the anonymous Artists I see on the street corner with their easel and brushes.
If I had the Big Bucks I would be “An avid Collector” like the Russian Billionaire, but without the accent or leftover borscht in the refrigerator. I have seen works that I would love to have on my walls, but I have Rembrandt tastes and a Paint-by-Numbers budget. So I admire from afar.
In all the years that I took painting lessons I managed to sell only one painting. It went for $10 dollars. That was all I could afford to give them to take it.