What do Leonardo da Vinci and Andy Warhol have in common you may ask. Certainly not a Campbells soup can!
Andy Warhol became arguably one of the 20th century’s most recognisable names in the genre of Contemporary art when his Pop Art exploded on the scene and caught the imagination of the art world. Less well known about Andy Warhol is that he was a religious man and one of his last works was Sixty Last Suppers (1986), silk screened 60 times so that it stretches to the same massive size as the original da Vinci “Last Supper” mural.
And so whereas the Auction House Christie’s would probably have died at the thought of pairing a painting of a Campbells Soup can with the Leonardo da Vinci painting Salvator Mundiin the same sale, not so when it comes to Warhol’s 50 million price-tagged Sixty Last Suppers. And so soon — November 15 to be exact, — the art world is going to be treated to possibly the most intriguing art auction in the last decade.
Salvator Mundi is one of only 20 paintings known in existence by Leonardo, including his Benois Madonna, now at the Hermitage, which is the second-most-recent Leonardo discovery, authenticated in 1909. There used to be only 19 until 2011 when a New York art dealer Alexander Parish bought what was ostensibly a copy of a Leonardo painting for 10.000 euros in an estate sale. On restoration it was discovered that is an original work by da Vinci. It is now known for certain that it belonged to England’s King Charles I (1600-1649), where it is recorded in the inventory of the royal collection drawn up a year after his execution
Dianne Dwyer Modestini, the expert who restored the work recalls her excitement when she began to recognise that the painting was by the master himself. The painting technique was very close to that of the Mona Lisa and the Saint John the Baptist.
A billion euro art scandal
To add even more intrigue, excitement and interest for Hello Monaco readers is the association this work by da Vinci has with a renowned figure of the sports world in Monaco, Dmitry Rybolovlev, President of AS Monaco.
While Christie’s assure us that Salvator Mundi comes with all the right proofs of provenance including an “art passport”, it was one of 40 works of art included in a billion euro art scandal that ended up in a Monegasque court with Dmitry Rybovlev suing his former art advisor Yves Bouvier.
Soon after the Russian billionaire bought the work for $127.5 million, he was surprised to read in the New York Times that the picture had recently been sold for almost $50 million less than he paid. A representative for the Rybolovlev family trust says the Salvator Mundi sale at auction “will finally bring to an end a very painful chapter.”
When challenged whether this controversy would affect the market for the painting and make potential buyers nervous the Executive Director of the auction house Loic Gouzer emphasized that the story is about the work itself, “Finding a new Leonardo Da Vinci masterpiece is rarer than finding a new planet.”
A Potpourri of Firsts:
A 16th century Leonardo original for sale in a Contemporary Art sale.
Pop Art famed Andy Warhol twinned with Leonardo da Vinci —painters spanning 5 centuries.
A world record in the making? 100+ million versus a mere 50 million for the Warhol work.
A lot is on the line for Christie’s whose last blockbuster auction in London which started off with a bang petered out like a damp squib when Francis Bacon’s Study of Red Pope 1962. 2nd version 1971, failed to find a buyer.
What Are Your Bets?
November 15 is the date. We await the auction with baited breath. A world record? And if so what will be the last chapter in the Rybolovlev/Bouvier controversy. Will Bouvier’s judgement be vindicated if the painting would sell above the 125 million?
But if you only have 50 million to spend and you have a palace to hang it in then have a punt at “Sixty Last Suppers”. Take your seats — what is it to be: 50 million for “Sixty Last Suppers” or 100 million for Salvator Mundi. We are about to find out.