The Lost Leonardo – A Picturesque Documentary

Rating (3.5 out of 5)

Summary: Continuing on my streak of documentaries, this was the 99 cent rental on Apple this week. My wife loves documentaries, and the reason is simple, people do weird-ass shit, that is, that can be stranger than fiction. This is documentary has those elements, plus 1 1/2 hours and only 99 cents.

First, the whole story of how sleeper hunters find hidden gems in the world is a great way to start a story. In this case, they buy a painting for a few thousand dollars that might be the Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci. They try to uncover the truth about what they have, pursue experts to help them determine what they have, and eventually sell the painting.

The expert, in this case, Dianne Dwyer Modestini restores the painting and ends up believing the masterpiece is a Leonardo. As the story continues, you feel a little sorry for Dianne. The new world of the internet is scary, and she was unprepared for the criticism that flooded her way.

The movie is filled with individuals who ride the emotional wave of the world wanting this painting to be a Leonardo. In particular, the curator for a museum in London. Did he really believe it was a Leonardo, or did he need a painting that would draw patrons? That fine line people maneuvered was amazing.

As the story progresses, we learn about the world of Free Ports and the wealthy who store their art there. The painting is sold for $83M and now we have Russian oligarchs involved. There could have been a special about Free Ports, money laundering, and tax evasion. The little smattering about Free Ports was fantastic.

Then as relationships fall apart between people, the painting is auctioned for $400. The marketing spectacle that leads up to the auction is impressive. Once the painting is sold, the CIA is involved because paintings are a way to launder money. Turns out the crown prince of Saudi Arabia acquired the piece. Now whole countries and politics are involved, and still, no one has verified if the painting is a Leonardo.

Overall, “The Lost Leonardo” is an excellent watch for 99 cents.