Written by Staff Writer
This post was originally published on CNN.com
The “Salvator Mundi” is one of the most expensive paintings ever sold, and its $450 million price tag includes some of the highest-earning insurance premiums ever paid. But the museum that has been forced to defend the painting’s authenticity after it was sold for so much money, is more concerned about the image’s current condition than it is about the subject matter.
A year after Gagosian’s New York gallery sold the painting to an anonymous buyer, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has released a statement expressing concern over what appears to be extensive damage to the work.
The Metropolitan explains that studies of the portrait have shown that the painting “is covered with what appears to be, but is not, either the collection of a meteor or the soil near a parking lot.” The results of these investigations will be published in a forthcoming paper and museum officials believe that evidence of damage will raise “serious concerns about the painting’s authenticity.”
This is not the first concern shared by museum officials regarding the “Salvator Mundi.” The Met previously announced that investigators from its International Consortium of Investigative Journalists had found further evidence that refuted one of the historical paintings’ portrayals, namely that it had once served as Jesus’ drinking glass.
Credit: Tony Pettinato/AFP/Getty Images
“The Met’s own experts are deeply concerned about the seriousness of the damage and to the painting’s integrity,” the statement continues.
The label placed on the painting after it was hung in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is one that is said to have provided the final authentication that this was actually a portrait of Jesus, as opposed to a “vintage work that was a mistake.”
However, according to the statement, “certain allegations have also been raised concerning the painting’s authenticity, including that it may be by a fourth-century Italian Baroque painter, or a 16th-century Dutch artist such as Rembrandt van Rijn.”
Furthermore, in light of the new research, museum officials have written to the Financial Times to publicly state that “The painting in question is, as so many works of art throughout history, a work of art; it is not only beautiful but also historically important and one of the most important artworks in the world.”
The auction is not the first time this “Salvator Mundi” has been auctioned. In 2010, it was owned by the late Romanov family member Ilya Segalovich, who purchased it after analyzing technical documents from the Louvre Paris Museum.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s trustees have admitted that they are concerned about the condition of the painting, but that they will “remain steadfast in our support of ‘The Salvator Mundi'” and will “encourage further testing.”