• gerard van weyenbergh

A "Salvator Mundi" from the school of Leonardo da Vinci found at a Neapolitan home.

A Salvator Mundi , a painting from Leonardo's studio that was on display in a church in Naples, was found in a Neapolitan apartment even though his disappearance went unnoticed due to the pandemic.

The stolen work - representing a Christ " savior of the world " - was hung in the museum of the Basilica of San Domenico Maggiore, which is part of a famous monastic complex in the historic center of Naples.

The room in the basilica where the painting was located had been closed for three months.

According to Naples prosecutor Giovanni Melillo, had recorded no theft complaint. " We actually contacted the Prior who was not aware of the disappearance because the room where the painting is kept had not been opened for three months ".

Italian museums have been open very little for ten months due to the Covid-19 epidemic. According to the police's images, this work was nestled in a large alcove with huge wooden doors with an old key in principle kept in a safe. The investigation is ongoing, but " it is plausible that it is a theft sponsored by an organization dealing with international art trade," the prosecutor added to the Neapolitan press on Monday evening.

The suspected Neapolitan claims to have bought it "in a flea market".

Last Saturday, the painting was found at the top of a cupboard, at a 36-year-old trader who claims to have bought it in " a flea market ". A rifle was seized in his bedroom. Alfredo Fabbrocini, who led the police operation, spoke of a " complex " investigation and expressed his " great satisfaction at having returned a property of such great importance to the city of Naples ".

Another "Salvator Mundi" attributed to Leonardo da Vinci becomes the most expensive painting in the world.

In 2017, a Salvator Mundi attributed to Leonardo da Vinci had become the most expensive painting in the world. It had been bought at auction for 450 million dollars at Christie's shattering the record for a painting, held until then by a Picasso, Women of Algiers, sold for 179.4 million dollars in 2015. The Salvator Mundi's purchase by an anonymous was later claimed by the UAE authorities for the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, unconvincingly.

This 65 cm by 45 cm painting, in which Christ emerges from the darkness, blessing the world with one hand while holding a transparent globe in the other, was attributed in 2010 to Leonardo da Vinci, after in-depth research still contested by some experts.

But in 2019, as France and Italy commemorated 500 years of Italian genius, the world's most expensive painting they hoped to borrow was nowhere to be found. It still is.

The work recovered in Naples is not attributed to the grand master.

The work located in Naples which is inspired by it is an oil on wood, attributed to another artist of the school of Leonardo da Vinci when he stayed in Milan at the end of his life, at the very beginning of the 16th century, mentions the museum of the basilica on its website. It was probably bought in Milan by an adviser and ambassador of Charles V.

The Salvator Mundi attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, and that of the Neapolitan Museum were exhibited together in Naples in 2015 during an exhibition organized free of charge opinion for Pope Francis's visit to this city. The iconography of Salvator Mundi is inspired by a representation of Christ from the Byzantine period, first taken up by Flemish painters.

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