At Large  June 20, 2024  Carlota Gamboa

Julianne Moore To Star In Television Adaptation Of The Lost Leonardo

© The Lost Leonardo - Photo By Adam Jandrup. Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Dianne Modestini and Ashok Roy inspecting the Naples copy of the Salvator Mundi (2019). 

In 2017, the mysterious final painting by Leonardo da Vinci became the most expensive painting ever sold when it left Christie’s New York for a whopping $450 million. The more than generous price tag may have seemed fair at a distance, but shocked those who knew the painting’s tumultuous backstory. 

Salvator Mundi, circa 1500-1510, had been originally found at an estate sale and was purchased for a little more than $1000 by a collector. When the original buyers began looking into the provenance of the then-titled After Da Vinci, they called on Dianne Modestini, the wife of a renowned art restorer, to work with the painting. 

Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1499–1510

Leonardo da Vinci, "Salvator Mundi"

Despite the work’s questionable condition, Modestini would go on to proclaim her certainty that it was in fact not a copy, but an authentic da Vinci. 

Skeptics were less than happy when it would go on to be authenticated, claiming that Modestini had painted around 90% of it during the restoration process. However, Modestini argued that certain markers of the work, like the position of the thumb, made it impossible to dispute. The painting’s lengthy story would eventually be made into the 2021 documentary called The Lost Leonardofeaturing accounts from both sides of the argument. 

Now, it seems The Lost Leonardo will be adapted into a television dramatization, with Academy Award winner Julianne Moore playing Modestini. Moore is also the executive producer and has partnered with StudioCanal, The Picture Company, Entertainment 360, and Zaftig Films to look for platform buyers.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Dianne Modestini. License

Though still unsure where the story will be aired, interest in the painting hasn’t waned. Since it was privately purchased in 2017 by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, no one has seen Salvator Mundi. Some even believe it to be lost. At the time of the sale, Christie’s stated that it would be on public view at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Though, this never ended up happening. 

There were also rumors that the painting would be included at the Musée du Louvre's 2019 Leonardo retrospective. Despite its appearance in official publications from the exhibit, the painting itself never arrived. 

The documentary producers, Christoph Jong and Andreas Dalsgaard, are reported to be executive producers on the series, and John Requa and Glenn Ficarra— who worked together on the 2011 romantic comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love— are set to direct the dramatization.

About the Author

Carlota Gamboa

Carlota Gamboa is an art writer based in Los Angeles.

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