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THE LOST LEONARDO

NEVER LET THE TRUTH GET IN THE WAY OF A GOOD STORY

THEATRICAL REVIEW
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By Jess Fenton
28th November 2021

The creation of a work of visual art and the buying versus selling of visual art has never been so diametrically opposed as they are today. Art is made with such beautiful intentions; to represent what you're feeling internally and turn it into a physical - sometimes tangible - item that can be provocative, moving, inspiring and beloved. Okay, perhaps that last statement was more true before the invention of NFTs. But like the certainties of death and taxes, what we humans create is inevitably used to destroy... or for greed and power. Semantics. In 'The Lost Leonardo', we become privy to a side of the art world seldom seen, and for good reason. Capturing the dirty underbelly of dealers, bidders, buyers and the politics as we're dragged along for the ride is truly a work of arresting art unto itself.

In 2005, for the bargain price of around US$1,100, a painting was bought from a not-so-reputable auction house in New Orleans, based on the presumption that it "might be something" and required further scrutiny. A "something" it was. Today, this piece is now known as 'Salvador Mundi' and is one of only 15 (or so) works attributed to the master, Leonardo Da Vinci. However, it also happens to be one of the most disputed works of art in history. No matter. It's questionable authorship didn't stop it from being sold by Cristie's in 2017 for a record-breaking (and still standing) US$450 million. Who? What? Where? Why? and How? Five excellent questions, each answer more captivating than the last. The only thing greater is the journey this painting has taken and why there are still so many questions hanging over its head.

'THE LOST LEONARDO' TRAILER
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This $450 million painting of Jesus is currently owned by a man of incredible wealth and power, whose religious denomination forbids the artistic depiction of prophets. Have I piqued your interest yet? Because I am salivating. 'The Lost Leonardo' has more layers than an onion. More twists and turns than the world's greatest rollercoasters. And it's all over one single painting that has one huge question hanging over it - the difference being if it is a painting by the master, it's worth $450 millions. If it isn't by the master, then it's worth... well, let's just say even I could afford it. I wouldn't want it, but I could afford it.

'The Lost Leonardo' has got it all. Art dealers, art makers, Da Vinci experts and scholars, art historians, art conservators, critics, professors, curators, gallery and museum directors, auctioneers, buyers, collectors, each with their own opinions and takes on why this work either is or isn't legitimate, and each is a character in their own right. The stakes couldn't be higher. We have reputations, careers, even businesses, global and political empires on the line. As this documentary goes on, you find yourself moving closer and closer to the edge of your seat, hungry for more - and it delivers. By the end, you don't know what to think. You may have an opinion, but you'll also have no idea why. It's brilliant. To say this film is engrossing is an understatement. Why is the art world always so fascinating? They're always my favourite documentaries to watch, and they only seem to just scratch the surface.

To say this film is engrossing is an understatement.

I will tell you that 'The Lost Leonardo' is about the first discovery of a Da Vinci work in over a century, and the journey to not only authenticate the work but also to sell it. What 'The Lost Leonardo' is actually about to so much more. You have to see it to believe it.

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