ON NOVEMBER 15th, 2017 AN OIL PAINTING depicting Christ as World Savior (Salvator Mundi) was purchased/sold for $450,312,500 U.S. dollars at Christie’s New York Rockefeller Center art auction house after “19 minutes of fierce bidding” (nbcnews.com). This exceptional price–the highest of any artwork ever thus far–is attributed to the painting being attributed to the hand of the master artist Leonardo da Vinci, who would have painted it around 1500. This 26″x19″ painting was marketed as “the long lost Leonardo” painting rumored to have been commissioned by King Louis XII of France (theguardian.com) and also “the last Leonardo” recorded to exist in private ownership (nbcnews.com). Christie’s conveniently chronologizes a trail of half a millennia of changing hands of ownership, episodes of being lost and found, painted over, and restored. Unfortunately, this auction house narrative blazes past explaining the who/what/where/when/why of the overpainting photographed in 1908-10 which concealed the long lost last Leonardo for who knows how long. In 1958, the unattributed overpainted portrait was bought in America in for $125 (latimes.com), disappearing again until 2005 when it was bought by someone named Alexander Parish at an American estate sale in 2005 for $10,000 (theguardian.com). Magically, along the yellow brick road leading to the auction house, 21st century “experts” managed to identify another face under the mysterious overpainting and subsequently “restore” the face of Salvator Mundi. In November 2011 the rediscovered painting was unveiled as an authentic Leonardo in an exhibition of da Vinci’s work at London’s National Gallery (historyinformation.com). At this time, it was owned by “a consortium of art dealers“ (thehistoryblog.com), soon to be bought by a Swiss art dealer named Yves Bouvier for $75 million, who later sold it in 2013 to a Russian billionaire named Dmitry Rybolovlev for $127.5 million (artlyst.com). On November 15th 2017, the face-value of this painting was determined to be $450.3 million by a buyer later revealed as “the little known” Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (newsmax.com). This political royalty was so-called “little known” because by and large the public was unaware of such financial assets he would spend on a painting–let alone an image of the Christian World Savior. Following this little known trail of big money, it goes without saying that, logically and logistically, the Russian billionaire mentioned above would be the lucky recipient of said $450.3 million (minus $50.3 million in fees (wikipedia)). Are the differences in the millions over a few years due to natural evolution or artificial inflation?
The painting now belongs to the newly constructed Louvre Abu Dhabi, (established November 8th, 2017), as it was “acquired by the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi for the museum” (artlyst.com). Abu Dhabi is the captial of the United Arab Emirates, within which Saudi Arabia holds an embassy. Within the squeeze of a mere month, this new “art and civilization museum”–which is essentially a new branch of the Paris Louvre established by a “thirty-year agreement between the city of Abu Dhabi and the French government” (wikipedia)–opened and also acquired what is now the most expensive painting ever sold/bought. Salvator Mundi was originally scheduled to be unveiled to the public in its new home today, September 18th, 2018. Why this date was chosen remains unspecified…however, this promotional article from June leaks a cute symmetrical synchronicity in the date, revealing it as 18-09-18. A little exercise in additional numerology reveals this to reduce to 9-9-9, with a final addition ending in the number 9. As per gematria, this would be an appropriate date for the unveiling of an image of the Biblical World Savior, as 999 is 666–the number of the Beast of Revelation–upside down (ridingthebeast.com). However, two weeks ago, the media announced that the unveiling scheduled for today would be postponed “indefinitely” (bbc.co.uk) Way to drop the ball without saying you are dropping the ball!
In the indefinite meantime, according to Christies there are approximately 16 authentic da Vinci paintings in existence, all on display around the world. This modest quantity is significant since da Vinci is universally accepted as one of the greatest painters of all time, by some books ranking #1. Having seen a few of these paintings in person (Mona Lisa, The Annunciation, Virgin of the Rocks (Louvre), The Baptism of Christ, The Adoration of the Magi, St. John the Baptist, The Virgin and Child with St. Anne) I wondered exactly which ~16 paintings the reports were referencing. A quick look at the assuredly widely-accepted Wikipedia page for “List of Works by Leonardo Da Vinci” reveals that there aren’t actually 16–give or take a few–known paintings by the Leonardo. Closer investigation reveals there are a mere 6 paintings that are “universally accepted” as having been painted by the master himself–2 of which are unfinished (i.e. definitely indefinite). The other paintings are at best “generally accepted” as having been done by his hand, and many are heavily disputed as to their authenticity. Far from being the next Mona Lisa, the most recent “long lost Leonardo” falls into this controversial realm of uncertainty. Given the popular money-making and trendy occult agenda to weave truth with fiction around the famed and fabled work of Leonardo da Vinci (i.e. The Da Vinci Code), it is not too far fetched to speculate that this Salvator Mundi is the latest example of a real-world art farce. And what better place for that to take place than in the holy global temple of the art market? At the auctioning frenzy on November 15th, the modest painting was a-historically placed among works of the nauseating likes of Cy Twombly, John Currin, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat in “Christie’s postwar and contemporary evening sale”, the rationale being that “Contemporary art…is where all the big money is” (theguardian.com). Or perhaps we could say: history is where the money is. Since the Louvre Abu Dhabi & Co. dropped their crystal ball at unveiling Salvator Mundi per prophesy, I decided I would take fate into my own hands and do the deed for them.
Two days before the painting first went on display at the London National Gallery as a re-discovered and restored Leonardo, an LA Times article from November 6th, 2011 reported: “Five decades ago, “Salvator Mundi” was just another more or less excellent “school of” artwork. It sold for the equivalent of about $125 in 1958″. Five decades ago the painting supposedly looked like the grey-scale image shown above (i.e. hideous), so I can see why it sold for $125, but I am failing to see how it was “more or less excellent”. In 2005, “The buyers, an American consortium, apparently gambled that under centuries of grime and botched restoration efforts lay a masterpiece. “It was in a bad state, covered by old layers of paint,” [art restorer] Marani told the Telegraph. “During the restoration, the quality of the painting emerged” (latimes.com). What a risky $10,000 gamble that was! Their “gamble” proved to pay off, didn’t it? Even without these vague explanations by “experts”, a picture is still worth several million. And yet, of the two not coincidentally similar paintings shown above, which one is the authentic overpainting? Even if none of the above is true, these three images of Salvator Mundi are too eerily similar to be unrelated:
Now that the “centuries of grime and botched restoration efforts” have been wiped off the face of the painting, we can clearly peer into the “original” face and also the crystal ball. Though we can’t yet see the painting in person (as it wasn’t unveiled today) we can see it online, possibly indefinitely. Being an “artist” myself I didn’t fail to immediately notice the issue of the crystal ball (celestial or world sphere) in Christ’s left hand–namely, that it isn’t painted right. I wasn’t the only one to be alarmed by this little quirk, as can be understood through this independently written article and this news.artnet.com report. Since even art “experts” (many of which probably have never held a paintbrush or a crystal ball) can’t get around the fact of the incorrectly-painted orb, their defense is that Leonardo painted it this way on purpose. To give them a break (and to give Leonardo some much deserved artistic license) this may indeed be true. Many other Salvator Mundis painted over the centuries reveal there is no artistic consensus on how to paint glass spheres. Still, the debate over the authenticity of the crystal ball reflects a level of absurdity rivaling that of the debate around the Earth being an oblate spheroid vs. a flat plane. Maybe the world really is upside down, and he’s saved it by reflecting it right-side up again…Unfortunately for those defender$ of the crystal ball’s reflection (who also insist the hair is authentic), this is not the only visible misdemeanor this painting demonstrates.
Leonardo’s “original” original The Virgin and Child with St. Anne is currently located in the “Department of Paintings: Italian painting” at the Louvre. I attest that the original copy at the Getty version is very good. Indeed, Salvator Mundi may more likely be the work of Leonardo and his workshop, as this article from www.theartnewspaper.com suggests. Moreover, the lack of definition between Christ’s chin and neck is either due to botched restoration efforts or it simply being an unfinished painting.
These little tidbits of visual and narrative incongruity are just the tip of the iceberg which is the $450.3 million dollar
mystery conspiracy of Salvator Mundi. Luckily many other thoughtful people besides myself have already done some big digging into these icy waters. Rather than being exhaustively redundant, I will direct the reader to an array of solid articles detailing a truer unveiling of Salvator Mundi:
And yet, at the end of the auction and fanfare, who exactly is Salvator Mundi?
Salvator Mundi is simply a specific iconographic motif of Jesus Christ, who according to Christian narrative and belief, was and is the World Savior. As received by the Venerable Mary of Agreda and written down in her four-volume text The Mystical City of God, “let the human race receive the Repairer, the Teacher, the Brother and Friend, to be life for mortals, a medicine for the sick, a consoler for the sorrowful, a basalm for the wounded, a guide and companion for those in difficulties. Let now the prophecies of our servants and the promises made to them, that We would send a Savior to redeem them, be fulfilled” (The Mystical City of God: A Popular Abridgment, p.45). The Old Testament prophesy of a coming World Savior was fulfilled through the life story of Jesus; the New Testament prophesies his return at the end of the world (to save it again–to make the world great again!). Countless Salvator Mundis exist as paintings, drawings, engravings, frescoes, and mosaics spanning centuries. The classic Salvator Mundi motif illustrates Jesus in a mug shot portrait giving the benediction blessing with his right hand and holding a world sphere in his left. Most often he is depicted in red and blue robes–which he is also often wearing when he cleanses the temple of the money changers.
An exceptional example of Jesus exercising his world-saving super powers is illustrated through the story (narrated by each of the four Evangelicals) of him brashly casting out the money changers from the temple of worship. The Salvator Mundi painting and the current circumstances surrounding it presents an ironic narrative considering that art wheelers and dealers are money changers in the temple of art. They change art into money. But exactly what are these people doing with their money generated around million-dollar art
I can’t help but notice certain overlapping resonant scenarios circumnambulating the world sphere that may relate back around to Salvator Mundi. As I mentioned in the August post Venus de Milo (Restored), “According to nytimes.com in an article published on March 6th, “The United Arab Emirates, which Washington considers one of its closest Arab allies, co-invested together with Mr. Dmitriev’s [a Russian fund manager and a former Goldman Sachs banker] fund as part of an effort to build close relations to Russia as well”. In 2013 the government of Abu Dhabi under the fund committed to give $6 bil to Russia for “projects”.” I alert the reader’s attention to the beginning of this post which delineated the trail of money following Salvator Mundi, which was bought by a Russian billionaire in 2013, and subsequently by the Saudi Prince in 2017. Is this simply a case of what goes around comes around? Are these transactions totally unrelated? The world hasn’t stopped turning yet! In late March of this year the Saudi Prince came to America where he met with other fat cats such as President Trump, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, and Jeff Bezos–the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, who is currently recognized as the wealthiest person in the world, boasting (as of September 2018) a net worth of $162.7 billion (he could buy all the Salvator Mundis in the world!). Though this uk.businessinsider.com article didn’t mention the acquisition of Salvator Mundi by the Louvre Abu Dhabi, it did summarize some key points of interest regarding how these key players might be casting their lot$. However, that article didn’t mention certain other high rollers that met up, including Elon Musk, Ari Emanuel, Steven Spielberg, and other people from Google and Apple. It also didn’t cover other key agreements made during the Prince’s visit, like for instance his $670 million dollar purchase of US arms (pagesix.com) (what a scam, that cost $219.7 million more than Salvator Mundi!). CNBC.com reported on this as well, highlighting U.S. President Trump’s approval of weapon purchasing to create more American jobs. On April 2nd the Prince visited Amazon headquarters in Seattle, and “toured the Everett plant…where Boeing and the Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) announced a joint venture partnership” (bizjournals.com). This article from April 7th, 2018, gives even more information on where all this money is going. To keep it spherical: Amazon’s “Seattle Spheres”–a globular glass dome structure decorated with house plants to simulate some sort of corporatized rainforest–were revealed January 30th, 2018 by “Jeff Bezos giving an Alexa command to “open the spheres”” (seattle.curbed.com). Open Sesame! (Do you think he could command Alexa to stop the deforestation of the real Amazon?). As reported by yahoo.com on September 11th, 2018, Amazon is looking to set up a second headquarters somewhere in America, with Washington D.C. being a top candidate. The icing on the cake however was already taken on May 21st, 2017 when Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, Saudi King Salman Bin Abdelaziz Al Saud, U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump met up in Saudi Arabia and ceremoniously placed their hands on a large glowing orb (livescience.com). Though I don’t necessarily understand what all of this is adding up to, there’s just too much money, wealth, resources, and ammunition involved to pretend its all fun and games.
At the end of the auction day: There are many people on this planet who believe the painting of Salvator Mundi to be the work of Leonardo da Vinci. There are people who also believe it to be worth $450.3 million. There are people who believe in Biblical scripture, which prophesies an end-of-the-world scenario culminating in the return of Jesus Christ as Salvator Mundi. Even if you choose not to believe in Salvator Mundi as a da Vinci, or choose not to believe in Biblical prophecy or scripture, or choose not to believe in a non-material, spiritual reality, surely you believe in $450.3 million dollars? And yet, what is more immaterial than figures on a screen? And still: the immaterial millions are made incarnate in the physical painting. If you still choose not to believe in these figures, then it looks like we have reached the end, my friend. Let us hope we are not tempted to lose faith in our own individual existence, lest we might fall off the face of the Earth once it is rendered flat.
Being slightly ahead of the sphere curve (perhaps due to knowing that the reflection in the crystal ball is false), I made the art-i-fact (revealed today, below) on August 26th, 2018. On a framed mirror which I bought for $6 at a thrift store the image of Salvator Mundi appears as outlines framing the face of the viewer as they look into the mirror. In this instance, the authentic face of Salvator Mundi is whoever is looking in the mirror at the time–which would be you. Rather than holding a crystal ball, this Savior properly holds the world temple as-is. As it wasn’t revealed to the public until September 4th that Salvator Mundi was not going to to be unveiled today, and having made the work over a few weeks ago, I didn’t consciously make this piece as a remedy to this real-world discrepancy in prophetic time. However, it all showed up in the end didn’t it?