One (or two) other paintings by the great master remain in private hands
When Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” sold for a record-breaking $450 million, its astronomical price was attributed to its status as the “last da Vinci” still in private hands.
Now, Bloomberg reports that there is another privately held da Vinci – or two – in existence, and one dealer thinks they could be worth as much as $200 million each.
Both paintings depict the same image – the Virgin Mary with the Christ child seated on her lap and holding a cross-shaped stick for winding yard (hence the name of both paintings: “The Madonna of the Yarnwinder.”)
The first painting, known as the Buccleuch Madonna, has been exhibited by the National Galleries of Scotland since 2009. It is on loan from the family of the Duke of Buccleuch, and was valued at $65 million in 2003, after it was stolen from the duke’s castle and recovered four years later.
The second painting, known as the Lansdowne Madonna, was last sold in 1999 and is believed to be in the hands of that owner.
Both paintings are clearly the work of da Vinci, Martin Kemp, a da Vinci scholar and emeritus research professor of art history at Oxford University told Bloomberg.
“Technical analysis shows that Leonardo worked simultaneously on both pictures,” said Kemp. “We can see from the under-drawings that he was very actively involved. The hair, the moist eyes—we can tell it was Leonardo.”
The authorship of the Buccleuch Madonna, while attributed to da Vinci, is the subject of some debate. According to Kemp, it is likely that another artist contributed to the work.
“It seems likely that the overall design, and the execution of the figures and the foreground rocks, are entirely or largely his,” according to exhibition materials. “The background landscape is less characteristic, and was probably added by another artist. Technical examination has revealed landscape features and small figures not visible on the surface. That some of these reappear in early copies of the composition supports the idea that the background may have been left unfinished by Leonardo and completed only later.”
While there is no indication that either painting will be sold any time soon, Otto Naumann, a New York art dealer told Bloomberg that the record sale of Salvator Mundi means each painting could sell for $150 million to $200 million.