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.

Major Participants:
Jerry Saltz (Art Critic)
Dianne Modestini (Art Restorer)
Dmitry Rybolovlev (Russian Oligarch, Art Collector)
Why Stream This Film?
The Lost Leonardo is about art experts trying to determine whether an obscure da Vinci painting purchased for $1,175 and sold four year later for $450 million was authentic or fake.
  • 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
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.
Owen Gleiberman


THE LOST LEONARDO packs the fascination and wallop of an expertly executed fictional thriller.
Glenn Kenny

The New York Times

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