Is Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is keeping the Leonardo?; Sotheby's has a big weekend in Hong Kong; Rubens sketch makes €1.62m in France; Lyon and Turnbull Holds First London Sale
This commentary by Marion Maneker is available to AMMpro subscribers. (The first month of AMMpro is free and subscribers are welcome to sign up for the first month and cancel before they are billed.)
The Salvator Mundi Bogeyman
The New York Times published its second story raising questions about the buyer and whereabouts of Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi, on the front page of the print edition, no less. The first was an editorial in December of 2017.
The Times isn’t the first newspaper to try to make a headline out of the painting not appearing at the Louvre Abu Dhabi as previously announced. The Telegraph spun a similar conspiracy theory last fall. But the Times seems to be hunting bigger game in this weekend’s story which carries David D. Kirkpatrick’s byline. He’s the paper’s correspondent covering the Middle East and the Gulf States.
Kirkpatrick is the reporter who originally identified the Saudi buyer that he believes was working on behalf of the Crown Prince based upon “documents provided from inside Saudi Arabia.” How Kirkpatrick came to possess those documents is anyone’s guess but both the article that the Timesman wrote and the sources who corroborated the reports in other papers suggest they come from the intelligence community and were meant to embarrass the Crown Prince whose crackdown on profligate spending ran counter to his participating in an auction that reset the top of the global art market.
That gets us to the heart of the Times story. Despite the framing about the painting’s whereabouts, the Times is really pressing upon the issue of ownership. Namely, was the hastily arranged announcement that the Leonardo would be housed in the Louvre Abu Dhabi simply a ruse that the buyer no longer feels is necessary:
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