Leonardo da Vinci’s long-lost ‘Salvator Mundi’, a painting of Jesus Christ commissioned over 500 years ago, has become the highest-valued work of art ever sold at auction. Unusually, the painting was sold as part of a contemporary art sale, and has a back-story of theft, amateur patch-ups and scandal worthy of a Donna Tartt novel.

It’s a buzz-worthy story for a number of reasons, but it also gives us a lot to unpack. Yes, someone paid over $400 million for a painting of Jesus – but it’s safe to assume they’re paying for da Vinci, not the subject matter. And of course it’s not exactly Jesus, anyway – it’s another unhistoric portrayal of the much-misrepresented rabbi. Is it just a valuable asset for a rich buyer – or does it really hold some kind of special substance and mystique? Does any of this matter? Let us know, below.

Leonardo, as you may know, had a long and prosperous career thanks to his rich patrons, so this seems a good moment to say joining Sputnik Patrons might help the next $400m masterpiece get made.

#history , #visual art