Anyone with even a casual interest in art will find this film fascinating. The director Andreas Koefoed has many documentaries to his credit and here he tells the story of a lost painting by Leonardo De Vinci called Salvator Mundi that was painted over 500 years ago (or was it?) Koefoed details the many twists and turns of this painting which sold for $10,000 dollars US in 2005, $75 million and then $127 million in 2013 and then finally sold for $450 million in 2017.
The film is a roller coaster ride commencing with the initial euphoria of the discovery of the painting. The process of having the painting fully authenticated by art critics and historians is laid out before the viewer’s eyes – the investment of time and reputation is such that many are unable to see or accept an alternate point of view.
Once the painting has been accepted however dubiously by some critics it is then transformed into a highly valuable financial asset. This is where the fun begins as buyers seek to sell the painting for the highest possible price. The financial manipulators who purchase view it as no more than a financial and political asset that and can be moved around the world without interference from national financial regulators.
It is amazing how many of the insiders involved in the painting the director was able to interview. From the original 2005 owners to the restorer, Diane Modestini and then to the Swiss art dealer, Yves Bouvier. The section of the film with Bouvier was a highlight which detailed his 50 million mark up when he purchased the painting and immediately sold it to a now very unhappy Russian billionaire. Andreas created balance in the film by interviewing the extremely funny and scathing New York art critic Jerry Saltz who was another highlight of the film.
Whether the painting is authentic or not is left to the viewer to decide. The movie by its conclusion has taken the viewer on a journey into an opaque world where those who wield political power have purchased a painting and used it to satisfy their own financial and political ends.
Movie Review By Richard De Pizzol