A finger of suspicion has been pointed at the world’s most expensive painting – because the hands are ‘too childish’ to have been painted by Leonardo da Vinci.
Salvator Mundi sold for $450 million (£342 million) in 2017 but art expert Jacques Franck believes it is a ‘workshop Leonardo’ created by two of the artist’s assistants.
The French historian argues that the fingers of Christ’s right hand which are held in the sign of the cross lack Da Vinci’s usual anatomical precision.
‘When the index and the middle finger are raised fully, one cannot bend the other fingers inside the palm extensively as observed in the Salvator Mundi’s blessing hand,’ he said. ‘It is therefore an unlikely movement.’
Salvator Mundi, above, sold for $450 million (£342 million) in 2017 but art expert Jacques Franck believes it is a ‘workshop Leonardo’ created by two of the artist’s assistants (file photo)
In an essay for the journal ArtWatch UK, Mr Franck also claims that too much of the fingernail on the hand is shown – something that Da Vinci would have known – and says it is unlikely the artist would have painted ‘the oddly long and thin nose, the mechanical hair ringlets, the flat orb and the over-shadowy neck’.
He believes that two artists called Salai and Baltraffio, who worked alongside Da Vinci, are the true painters of the piece which has been described as the ‘male Mona Lisa’.
The painting was sold at Christie’s in New York, reportedly to Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman who is rumoured to have it on display on his superyacht.
The auctioneers and other experts insist the painting is a genuine Da Vinci work, but Michael Daley, the Director of ArtWatch UK, said: ‘Nobody was as anatomically sophisticated as Leonardo. The problems with the hands, which can’t have been painted by Leonardo are just one of the great untalked about things of this painting.
‘When you discover one thing that is wrong with a painting it tends to be that you discover everything is wrong with a painting.’