Where is the world’s most expensive painting?
The quality of the painting itself divides people. The US art critic Jerry Saltz rails in The Lost Leonardo that “it’s not even a good painting”, much less a great Leonardo, while true believers gush that seeing it in person is a transcendent experience. (Maybe so, but in the films and other reproduced images it does have a more cloying look).
Some of the most eye-opening commentary in both films isn’t even about art. In The Lost Leonardo, Evan Beard, a Bank of America executive who deals with art as investment, talks about the common buyers’ motive of using artworks as collateral for other financial manoeuvres. The film doesn’t take a stand on the painting’s attribution, but makes it clear that museums, dealers and potential buyers had millions to gain – along with incalculable prestige – by choosing to believe it is a true Leonardo.
A major turning point…