A stolen copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s 16th century Salvator Mundi painting has been found by Italian police, despite priests not realising it was missing.
Officers arrested a 36-year-old apartment owner on suspicion of receiving stolen goods after the 500-year-old oil painting was discovered in his bedroom cupboard.
The duplicate, attributed to the Leonardo school but not the Renaissance artist himself, went missing during the coronavirus pandemic but, because the musueum at the Basilica of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples has been shut, nobody realised it had been taken.
Image: The original artwork was sold for a record $450m (£330m). Pic: AP
Police chief Alfredo Fabbrocini said the man was detained after he offered a “less than credible” explanation that he had “casually” bought it at a market.
Mr Fabbrocini said the discovery, made during a bigger police operation, was particularly satisfying because they “resolved a case before it was created”.
He explained: “The painting was found but its custodian had not realised it was stolen.”
The painting depicts a robed Jesus Christ with his hand raised in a blessing and holding a crystal orb, gazing at the viewer.
More from Italy
Image: The painting is a copy of da Vinci’s 16th century Salvator Mundi painting of Jesus Christ. Pic: AP
It is a copy of the Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World) by da Vinci that sold for a record $450m (£330m) at a Christie’s auction in 2017.
The unnamed bidder was later identified as a Saudi royal who purportedly bought it on behalf of the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
It was supposed to have been unveiled a year later at the museum, but the exhibition was delayed indefinitely and the work has not been seen in public since.
The San Domenico Basilica says the recovered painting was probably made by a Leonardo student in the 1520s and bought by Giovan Antonio Muscettola, an adviser to Emperor Charles V and ambassador to the papal court. It was housed in the basilica’s Muscettola family chapel.
It was restored prior to being exhibited in a 1983-1984 show “Leonardo and Leonardism in Naples and Rome”.
Source : Sky News