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‘The Lost Leonardo’ review: Documentary examines mystery of controversial painting

Believe want you want.

The Lost Leonardo follows one of the most diversive pieces in the art speculation world. Before sports memorabilia and NFTs were setting records with each item sold, paintings were the big sellers at exclusive auctions. The Salvator Mundi was the most expensive of all. But was it really painted by Leonardo da Vinci or is its value based on what people want it to be?

The story of the painting itself is engrossing. In 2005, three men bought the Salvator Mundi at a shady New Orleans auction house. What was purchased for just over $1,100 was soon selling for millions. How a painting by one of the most influential names in history found its way to New Orleans is a question in itself, but what happened next is what The Lost Leonardo is concerned with.

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The painting was eventually sold for $450 million to a buyer in Saudi Arabia. By then, the questions of repainting and touch ups came to light. But as more money was exchanged more suspicions were aroused. It eventually was going to show in the Louvre, but things did not quite work out as expected. More questions came to light and the painting’s legitimacy was further called into question.

'The Lost Leonardo' review: Documentary examines mystery of controversial painting

There are plenty of interviews in The Lost Leonardo (including the original buyers and some important names in art circles.)These come from all sides as some are confused, others are defensive, and the rest are just embarrassed. It all speaks to the big question the documentary is asking. Is the “not very good painting” really one from Leonardo or is it just a matter of people really wanting to believe it is?

The film never tries to answer the question and poses different view points to the audience. It is an interesting look at the uber-rich and even more fascinating to track the idea of value. The Lost Leonardo is a weaving narrative that will entice art fans. But its complex tale will also reach out to heist fans and those who like hearing stranger than fiction tales.

The Lost Leonardo comes to on demand everywhere September 17

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