A 16th-century copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi,” the world’s most expensive painting, has been recovered by Italian police after it was stolen from a museum in Naples.
The artwork, which was painted by one of the Renaissance master’s students 500 years ago, was discovered at an apartment during a search in the Italian city, according to a police statement.
The portrait was modeled on Leonardo’s famed depiction of Christ with one hand raised in blessing and the other holding a crystal orb.
The property’s owner was found nearby and taken into custody on suspicion of receiving stolen goods.
Da Vinci’s students and assistants created so many copies of the artwork but it is not known who created this particular “Salvator Mundi,”
It is believed that the painting was created in Rome before being brought to Naples by Giovanni Antonio Muscettola, an envoy and advisor to the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V.
Leonardo’s original “Salvator Mundi” made history in 2017 when it sold for $450.3 million at Christie’s in New York. Once dismissed as a copy, it sold in the UK for just £45 ($61) in the 1950s.
While some scholars have rejected the attribution of this particular artwork to Leonardo, suggesting it was at least partly created by members of his workshop, the painting was restored before becoming the most expensive artwork ever to sell at auction. It is widely thought that the record-breaking bid was made on behalf of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.