Due to the pandemic the curators of the Doma Museum of the Basilica di San Domenico Maggiore had not opened one of the rooms in the museum for around three months. Nothing remarkable about that at first glance, but it happened to be the resting place of a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, the original of which sold for $450.3m in 2017. The copy is thought to have been painted by one of Leonardo’s students.
Police raided the flat of someone they suspected of possessing stolen property and were astonished to find, sitting in a cupboard below some immaculately ironed white shirts, the 500-year-old copy. Unimpressed by the man’s claims that he had bought the painting at a local flea market, the police contacted the museum to see if it was theirs.
Much to their embarrassment, the museum officials were totally unaware that it was missing and there was no evidence that the room had been broken into. Still, the painting was missing, they confirmed, and si, it was theirs. They have been reunited with the painting but red faces all round.
The whereabouts of the original is also a bit of a mystery. It was due to be exhibited at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in 2018, but the exhibition was abruptly cancelled and it has not been seen in public.
Truly, the Lord moves in mysterious ways.