The Last Leonardo: The Making of a Masterpiece
500 years after the death of Leonardo Da Vinci, Ben Lewis considers the unrivalled legacy of his art through an original biography of the ‘Salvator Mundi' (Saviour of the World) – the lost Da Vinci painting. In 2017, Leonardo Da Vinci's small oil painting, the Salvator Mundi entered global popular consciousness with its record-breaking $450m sale in 2017. The Salvator is, in the words of its discoverer, ‘the rarest thing on the planet by the greatest human being who ever lived.' Only re-attributed to Leonardo in 2011, as the last one that will be discovered and sold, it is widely said to be ‘the Last Leonardo'. In this stunning mix of biography, art history, history and thriller that goes deep into the story of this astonishing picture, not to mention the dealings of the contemporary art world, Ben Lewis writes a truly original and gripping narrative history. This book forensically retraces the history of the Salvator Mundi. The painting is a prism through which we can understand the highs and lows of the art world, experiencing the passions that drove men and women to own this work, as well as the philistinism that led them to almost destroy and lose it; through which we can track the vicissitudes of the highly secretive art market, across five centuries and the intrinsic link between art and the social and political system it inhabits. This story is an opportunity to tell a twisting tale of geniuses and gangsters, double-crossing and disappearances where we're never quite certain what to believe. The Last Leonardo is an adventure story about art historians and a work of art. It is a book about a search for lost treasure, for something with a totemic power, that existed, until recently, only in myth and legend.