The Lost Leonardo
Documentary | English | 95 minutes
Two dealers in New Orleans purchased for $1,175 an obscure painting of Jesus Christ raising his hand in a sacramental gesture. Much of the canvas was painted over. The dealers asked Dianne Modestini, an art restorer, to clean it up. After much work and close examination, Modestini declared this painting, called the Salvator Mundi, to be the work of Leonardo da Vinci. Although other experts proved the painting to be a fake, greedy dealers and collectors fed the myth claiming this discovery was indeed the birth of “virgin art.” One skeptical art critic wrote, “Everybody wanted it to be a Leonardo. This is simply a matter of economics, when you boil down to it. And greed. Basic human foibles. Money.” Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Jerry Saltz simply said, “It’s not even a good painting.” Collectors looking to enrich themselves ignored these criticisms and kept increasing the painting’s value. The Salvator Mundi was purchased in 2013 for $1,175 and sold in 2017 for $450 million.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 98%
- Metacritic Score: 79
- Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards: Nominated, Best Documentary Feature
- International Documentary Association: Nominated, Best Cinematography (Adam Jandrup); Best Musical Score (Sveinung Nygaard)
- Stockholm Film Festival: Nominated, Best Documentary
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THE LOST LEONARDO is the first art-world documentary I’ve seen that captures what art becomes once it goes through the looking glass of greed: not just a commodity, but a way of transferring and manipulating power. It’s enough to make the Mona Lisa stop smiling.
THE LOST LEONARDO packs the fascination and wallop of an expertly executed fictional thriller.
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