Art | January 24, 2021 6:00 am

Stolen Replica of “Salvator Mundi” Found in Naples Bedroom

It's probable one of Leonardo da Vinci's students painted the replica

Policeman show the "Salvator Mundi", a painting from the
Policeman show the "Salvator Mundi", a painting from the Leonardo Da Vinci school dating back to the 15th century.
Salvatore Laporta/KONTROLAB/LightRocket via Getty Images

If you were a 15th or 16th century art student learning from Leonardo da Vinci — first and foremost, you had excellent choice in instructors. As you learned your craft, you may well have honed certain techniques by creating replicas of some of da Vinci’s works. This is likely the case when it comes a specific copy of Salvator Mundi — a replica with an impressive enough history on its own that it was displayed at the Doma Museum of the Basilica di San Domenico Maggiore in Naples.

Emphasis on the “was” part of that sentence. The painting was stolen at some point during the pandemic, and now it’s resurfaced. Specifically, it’s resurfaced in an apartment in Naples — and an article at Hyperallergic has more details on the case.

The painting was discovered in an apartment’s cupboard. The apartment’s resident was then taken into custody; he has argued that he bought the painting at a flea market. The painting itself has been returned to its home.

Recently, a market has emerged for centuries-old copies of famous paintings. A 2020 article at CNN explored the phenomenon, noting a then-recent auction at Sotheby’s featuring several “honest copies.” In the article, art adviser Tim Warner-Johnson spoke about the importance of copies being temporally close to the original paintings.

“[I]f it’s a Leonardo, it would be wonderful to have a copy from Leonardo’s time — much better than having one from the 19th century, for example,” Warner-Johnson said. Evidently, someone in or around Naples had a similar idea and decided to throw a heist into the mix.

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