The consortium of dealers that own the recently re-discovered Da Vinci painting, Salvator Mundi, have been greatly aided in their claims by London’s National Gallery and its willingness to put the work on display as a genuine Da Vinci. Now the gallery wants to save face and has asked that the work—which is owned by a group of speculators—not be put up for sale, according to Bloomberg:
“The National Gallery does not display paintings when they are for sale,” the museum said in an e-mail yesterday. “Any painting for sale is removed from display and returned to the owner, following a standard procedure for returning a loan picture.”
The dealers have naturally agreed. The value they get from the show far exceeds any grace period they will have to wait in order to pull off a transaction. Of course, propriety requires that they claim they’re interested in selling to a museum. But at $200 million, the asking price suggests a private buyer.
“There were some discussions with a museum concerning the possible acquisition of the painting, but it hasn’t been offered for many months,” said the New York-based private dealer Robert Simon. “I’ve assured the National Gallery that the painting isn’t on the market and that there are no plans to sell it after the exhibition.”
“I have an interest in the painting,” said Simon, who began studying the Leonardo in 2005. “I’m coordinating the research and representing the owners.” He declined to reveal who is in the group or the Leonardo’s price when it was on the market. He described its condition as “typical for a work of about 1500.”