The world has had questions about "Salvator Mundi." The New York Times says it has answers. After the painting sold for an eye-popping $450 million in 2017, it remained out of the public eye, reportedly in the hands of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, its rumored buyer. Then came word that it was to appear in a 2019 show at the Louvre—a happening that didn't come to pass, which deepened whispers about the painting not being a work of Leonardo da Vinci after all. Not true, says the Times. It reports the Louvre actually received the painting in 2018 and French scientists spent weeks conducting an extremely advanced forensic exam. The resulting 46-page report has been kept under wraps, but the Times says it managed to acquire several copies that say it's the real deal.
The report also lists the Saudi Culture Ministry as having ownership of the work, and the Times filled in the holes about why the ministry apparently wouldn't show what was indeed an authentic work by talking to unnamed French officials. They attributed it to a disagreement between the Saudis and the French about how the painting would be shown. The Saudis allegedly insisted it be hung next to the "Mona Lisa," or else not at all. The French said that just wasn't possible due to the extreme security measures the "Mona Lisa" demands; moving it or placing a painting alongside it would essentially be impossible, they asserted, and a stalemate resulted. As for why the Louvre hasn't confirmed its authenticity publicly, a rep says under French law, the museum cannot disclose such information unless it is actually showing the work. (Read the full piece for more, including findings that led the researchers to believe da Vinci painted it.)