The savior of the world is missing: a rare painting of Jesus Christ by Leonardo da Vinci, the Salvator Mundi, has mysteriously disappeared after it sold for 450 million dollars in 2017.
The painting, entitled Salvator Mundi, Latin for Savior of the World, is one of just fifteen paintings by Leonardo da Vinci known to exist. It was painted sometime around the years 1490 to 1519. The piece features Jesus Christ in Renaissance dress, holding a crystal sphere in His left hand and giving a benediction with His right.
In 2017, the Salvator Mundi was sold for $450 million at Christie’s Auction House in New York City, bought by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. The Abu Dhabi culture department later announced it would be displayed in the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum.
— Louvre Abu Dhabi (@LouvreAbuDhabi) December 6, 2017
The showing was first scheduled for September of 2018, and was later rescheduled with no explanation – but now, the Salvator Mundi is officially missing. The Abu Dhabi culture department has refused to answer any questions, but “staff of the Louvre Abu Dhabi say privately that they have no knowledge of the painting’s whereabouts.”
The Louvre in Paris has also been unable to locate the piece. Some experts are claiming the Crown Prince has decided to not part ways with the painting and keep it himself, but others are suggesting something more “tragic.”
Leonardo da Vinci painted the Salvator Mundi for King Louis XII of France. King Charles I of England then acquired it in 1649, before it was auctioned off in 1763. It was lost to history until it resurfaced in 1900 when it was purchased by a British collector, Francis Cook. When he received it, the painting was badly damaged from restoration attempts. It was eventually sold in 1958 for a little over a hundred dollars, thought to be a poor copy of the original from its poor condition. In 2005 the piece was bought by a group of art dealers for $10,000. It was then restored properly and authenticated as a work of da Vinci before being sold to the Saudi Crown Prince.