Thomas Campbell, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was quoted recently that, while the sales price was “eye-popping, it should come as no surprise in a market where speculation, marketing and branding have displaced connoisseurship as the metrics of value” and that the price alone would "guarantee notoriety” even if their were ongoing doubts about its authenticity. He continued, “Someone is gambling that this painting will attract audiences in the way that the Mona Lisa draws crowds at the Louvre.”
For the last several decades it seems that art "experts"--especially those associated or hired by fine art auction houses--hype and pump up prices as their main raison d'être. Even if the art is unworthy of attention, if they can draw attention to a work, its auction price will climb ever higher. Hucksters have invaded the fine art world, for sure.
Many other experts aren't so sure this is in fact a painting by Da Vinci himself. In fact, until the last time it was sold at auction in 1958 for a mere £45, its authorship was unclear. It was previously attributed to the hand of Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio, a student in Da Vinci's studio and a Master in his own right. Compare the beauty and quality of his work below. Pay close attention to the hand, eyes, nose and curls of hair...
Some claimed that the wood panel is similar to the panel in size and type that the Mona Lisa is painted on. They aren't.
- The Mona Lisa was a poplar panel... the Salavator Mundi is on walnut.
- The Mona Lisa is 30" x 21" while the Salavator Mundi is smaller... 26" x 18".
The attribute the name of Da Vinci to such a work requires lots of science and trust. In this case, who do we trust? The consortium whose interest was motivated by the potential profits? The restoration expert who has been in the business of restoring paintings for private galleries to increase their appeal--and value? The museums who will surely put together huge exhibitions based on the Mundi and sell millions of dollars in ticket fees and gift shop products?
Perhaps we'll never know for sure. For me at least, I won't be buying a T-shirt until I'm convinced...