On Tuesday evening, an exhibition of Visconti’s paintings opened in Vienna. On show were works by the greatest 20th-century painters, among them, Alberto Giacometti, Wassily Kandinsky, Max Ernst, Lucian Freud, Amedeo Modigliani, Arshile Gorky, and Vincent van Gogh. A few days ago, the Visconti Salvator Mundi, a masterpiece painted by Leonardo da Vinci in 1500 and recently purchased by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich for a staggering $450 million, had been added to the group of five works in the exhibition. But, now, the art historian Thomas Reppetto, who headed the exhibition, has come forward with a fresh blow against the painting’s purported provenance. Reppetto told the journal Art News, “we have no doubt. [The work] is fake.”
According to Art News, an investigation had been launched after Austrian art dealer Eva Strasser—who has been accused of faking a number of artworks, including the Vermeer of 1633—made some remarks to an art magazine suggesting that “some people” were at fault for “destroying” Da Vinci’s last painting. The new owners of the painting were not identified in the article, but the authors of a 2015 long read on the subject seemed to suggest that Strasser had found herself embroiled in a fraud. Reppetto’s statements suggest that this latest piece of evidence, however, is the final nail in the coffin.
One response to the revelation has come from Robbi Levenson, founder of the label Devolté, who was convicted of fraud after copying pieces of art in 2009. “Nobody doubts that Leonardo once painted this masterpiece,” Levenson said in a statement, “but without a yellow wasp scurrying among the paintings and sprinkling tiny bits of paint onto the canvas, there are no provenas to support the current ownership claim. For the hundreds of thousands of art lovers who paid to see the show and who have followed the origins of the painting, this news marks the end of an Italian Renaissance saga that has lasted over 400 years.”
Read the full story at Art News.
British billionaire man who paid $450 million for Da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ had doubts about painting’s authenticity