Is the Leonardo da Vinci Painting “Salvator Mundi” (Which Sold for $450 Million in 2017) Actually Authentic?: Michael Lewis Explores the Question in His New Podcast

Jour­nal­ist and best­selling author Michael Lewis (Liar’s Pok­er, Mon­ey­ball, The Big Short) has a new pod­cast, Against the Rules, that “takes a sear­ing look at what’s hap­pened to fairness—in finan­cial mar­kets, news­rooms, bas­ket­ball games, courts of law, and much more. And he asks what’s hap­pen­ing to a world where every­one loves to hate the ref­er­ee.” That is, what hap­pens when we, as a soci­ety, lose con­fi­dence in the arbiters of truth and fair­ness?

In Episode 5, Lewis focus­es on “Sal­va­tor Mun­di,” a paint­ing of Jesus Christ attrib­uted to Leonar­do da Vin­ci, which famous­ly sold at auc­tion for $450 mil­lion in 2017. Pret­ty remark­able, con­sid­er­ing that some ques­tion whether “Sal­va­tor Mun­di,” is real­ly a Leonar­do paint­ing at all. Or, if it is, whether the high­ly-restored paint­ing still retains any brush­strokes from Leonar­do him­self. This leads Lewis to ask some intrigu­ing ques­tions about the authen­tic­i­ty of art, and to explore the pres­sure placed on the ref­er­ees of art–namely, art historians–to con­firm the authen­tic­i­ty of poten­tial­ly valu­able paint­ings. Below, you can stream the episode, “The Hand of Leonar­do.”

As a bonus, we’ve also added an episode that exam­ines how sketchy “cus­tomer ser­vice” com­pa­nies mis­lead peo­ple try­ing to repay their stu­dent loans, and how the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has under­mined gov­ern­ment agen­cies designed to pro­tect debt-strapped Amer­i­cans.

Michael Lewis’ Against the Rules is list­ed in our new col­lec­tion, The 150 Best Pod­casts to Enrich Your Mind.

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  • Adam Heredia says:

    Part of the strange­ness sur­round­ing this piece is the lack of pre-restora­tion/­con­ser­va­tion doc­u­men­ta­tion.
    It is stan­dard oper­at­ing pro­ce­dure to pho­to doc­u­ment the piece before dur­ing and after the inter­ven­tion. They allege they omit­ted this step. Then there the strange need to form a finan­cial con­sol­i­dat­ed group for an alleged run of the mill midev­il paint­ing. The 3rd strange­ness is they allege they knew noth­ing of any da Vin­ci con­nec­tion when they first pur­chased a heav­i­ly over paint­ed piece.

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