Italian Police seize 500-year-old stolen Leonardo Da Vinci painting
Imagine spotting a shady looking artwork that appears to be that of Leonardo Da Vinci's, which turns out to really be one, and that too at a place where it isn't supposed to be. That's what happened when the Italian Police spotted a 500-year-old copy of Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi painting in a Naples flat. They chanced upon it while working on another case.
The painting was bought for Anu Dhabi museum
The painting by the Renaissance legend was sold for a stunning $450 million at a Christie's auction in 2017 to a Saudi royal, later identified as crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who reportedly bought it to gift the painting to Louvre Abu Dhabi museum. The painting was supposed to be shown during an exhibition at the museum in 2018, which had been delayed indefinitely.
None in the museum knew that the painting was gone
The copy of the original painting was made by artist Giacomo Alibrandi in the 1500s and was purchased by an adviser of Emperor Charles V, Giovan Antonio Muscettola. This copy was placed inside a small museum in a side chapel of the Basilica of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples. The museum remained closed, thanks to the pandemic, hence no one apparently realized the theft.
We resolved a case before it was created: Cop
Police chief Alfredo Fabbrocini said the owner of the apartment was questioned about the painting, but he gave "less than credible" explanation, trying to reason that he had "casually" bought it at a market. He was detained thereafter and police are trying to trace how the painting was smuggled. Fabbrocini said it's a rewarding discovery "because we resolved a case before it was created."
Arguments about Salvator Mundi, Jesus and the orb
Meanwhile, Naples prosecutor Giovanni Melillo suspects an organization dealing in international art trade is involved in this theft. Salvator Mundi, which depicts Lord Jesus Christ holding a crystal orb, has been embroiled in arguments, concerning its originality. For example, Michael Daley, ArtWatch UK director, said light refraction within the orb was unrealistic in the original painting. But, later copies had it right, he noted.
The orb Jesus held in the painting was 'hollow'
However, later, a research paper by Marco Zhanhang Liang, Michael T. Goodrich, and Shuang Zhao revealed that it was found to be accurate through scientific tools. Using "physically based rendering," a hi-tech software, it was established that "a hollow orb does not cause such distortion."