A Leonardo da Vinci painting in private hands is expected to fetch a staggering £75 million at auction – despite experts scratching their heads over one crucial “error”.
The Italian painter’s Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World), painted around 1500, depicts Christ in Renaissance clothing holding a glass orb.
However, art experts have pointed out that the orb appears completely see-through, when in reality the light passing through the orb should appear distorted.
Da Vinci's biographer Walter Isaacson is among the art buffs questioning whether the artist “chose not to paint it that way, either because he thought it would be a distraction [...] or because he was subtly trying to impart a miraculous quality to Christ and his orb.”
According to the Guardian, Isaacson wrote: “Solid glass or crystal, whether shaped like an orb or a lens, produces magnified, inverted, and reversed images.”
He added: “Instead, Leonardo painted the orb as if it were a hollow glass bubble that does not refract or distort the light passing through it.”
The painting was initially attributed as a work by Leonardo’s follower, Bernardino Luini.
An American businessman, who bought it 12 years ago at a small U.S. auction house for less £7,500, began to research its history.
In 2011 the work was confirmed as a genuine Leonardo and unveiled publicly. It was the first discovery of a painting by Da Vinci since 1909.
Christie’s this week announced it would be selling Salvator Mundi next month in New York.
The auction house’s Loic Gouzer said: “Salvator Mundi is a painting of the most iconic figure in the world by the most important artist of all time.
“The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the market is an honour that comes around once in a lifetime.”