I know where the da Vinci is.
All kinds of sources, including the “New York Times,” are saying that “Christ as Salvator Mundi,” the $450 million painting that sold in 2017, is apparently ‘missing.’ This is utter nonsense.
It is under my bed in Brooklyn.
I keep it there, wrapped between candy wrappers and pink fiberglass wool, taking it out once on the half hour only to add pictures of it to my Instagram story. Briefly sated, I then doze off to episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress.”
This da Vinci painting, is, of course, totally fake. A no-name second-cousin of Jackson Pollack painted it in about 20 minutes in his beach house in Queens, inspired by the time their Uncle Jimmy wore hot rollers on his way to a Renaissance Fair. To be sure, the painting captured a poignant moment. But I am not even sure why I like it, really, seeing as it is such a boorish work made on wood chips, abominably sloppily restored.
You see, the expert conservators forgot everything they’d ever learned when they came to this misidentified portrait of Uncle Jimmy. They used acrylic paint and just imagined how Jimmy really wanted to look if he’d met Kevyn Aucoin as he’d always wanted. Besides, Dianne Modestini’s contour-to-highlight ratio game is pretty weak, and frankly, this casts some doubt as to whether she really studied Italian art at all. She also could have done a *lot* more to make sure Jimmy’s hooded eyes popped. I think it would definitely have been better if a man had overseen the restoration process, don’t you agree?
A few days ago, I got a call from the boyishly handsome and boundlessly kind leader of the free world, Mohammed Bin Salman. On penalty of death, he strongly, strongly suggested that we meet for cocktails somewhere between Brooklyn and Riyadh. I chartered a jet with my earnings as a prolific art writer and landed in Dubai.
With the Burj Khalifa behind us, MBS and I discussed whether Uncle Jimmy, aka Christ as Salvator Mundi, was fit to show in a museum.
“Alexandra, what should I do about this da Vinci painting—I mean, the portrait of Uncle Jimmy?” MBS asked me, batting his eyelashes. “Also, would you like to be my second wife? You have beautiful skin.”
“Prince,” I began affectionately, “I would love to. But the matter at hand, this da Vinci, well, it’s utter nonsense. You’d be better off throwing it in the garbage.”
I brought along my aunt, moonlighting as an art advisor, to provide counsel. She enjoys knitting, scrapbooking, shul, and recently asked me if Picasso was Jewish. Undoubtedly, she advised MBS against showing the portrait of Uncle Jimmy. After all, tourists won’t find this work interesting. No one has ever heard of it. No one is reading articles about it. Nobody cares.
With that, MBS did one last shot of tequila and kissed me on the cheek goodbye. He agreed that the safest place for the portrait misattributed to Leonardo da Vinci is in the dead zone near the projects where the cops only come promptly if you’re an innocent young black man walking down the street at night.
Now, don’t get me wrong. If the Musée du Louvre in Abu Dhabi, or anyone from the Emirates, or anyone at all, would like to learn more about the matters preceding this Salvator Mundi mix-up, they are welcome to read “The Bouvier Affair: A True Story.” It will probably be very boring: I spoke to premier art finance portfolio managers, dealers involved in its sale, and preeminent restorers from elsewhere in the field to piece together the journey of the seller, Dmitry Rybolovlev. Rybolovlev remains involved in a scandal with his former art consigliere, Yves Bouvier.
It’s all very normal, really. The journey to selling the da Vinci involves Moscow, Monaco, Cyprus, and 37 artworks by less important people than Jackson Pollack’s cousin. If you want to dig deep and learn about obscure artists like El Greco, Gustav Klimt, Auguste Rodin, or Toulouse-Lautrec…I guess you could give it a look.
Otherwise, we could keep talking about the mystery of where the da Vinci painting of Salvator Mundi might be. But at least I did you all a favor and solved it once and for all.
What, you thought I was joking?
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Editor-at-Large, Cultbytes Alexandra Bregman has written for The Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, The Art Newspaper, and the Asian Art Newspaper among others. She began her career with internships at Christie's and Gagosian gallery 10 years ago, later traveling to India and France for work and ghostwriting for a global CEO. Bregman spent time at Université Paris IV-Sorbonne, and completed degrees at Smith College and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. l igram |