NICA GUTMAN RIEPPI discusses her hands-on experience with Leonardo’s SALVATOR MUNDI

There was a “little” story in the news last year…

Salvator Mundi attributed to Leonardo da Vinci
(Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci, photo:

… about a painting which, after decades lost to public view, resurfaced in the deep south and SUDDENLY – it’s attributed to Leonardo da Vinci himself.  One of only twenty known da Vinci’s anywhere in the world.

After attribution, it sold at auction for the astronomical amount of four hundred and fifty million dollars, the highest price ever achieved by a work of art at auction.  And the buyer, initially anonymous, was later identified as a Saudi Prince.

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The intended home of the painting was the new Louvre, Abu Dhabi.  A public display of the painting was scheduled for this past September, 2018.

That same month, the Department of Culture and Tourism of Abu Dhabi announced that the painting’s display would be indefinitely delayed, leaving the world abuzz with questions, theories, rumors, and a twinge of fear over the painting’s fate.

This is a story of Saudi princes, Russian billionaires, Instagram-posting former directors of renown art museums.

And restoration specialists, including our January 23rd, 2019 speaker, who helped bring solid science to bear on the re-discovery of the SALVATOR MUNDI, precipitating it’s eye-watering price at auction.


NICA GUTMAN RIEPPI is a Principal Investigator at the firm Art Analysis and Research, in New York City, with over twenty years experience in the field.  She holds a dual masters in art conservation and art history and has worked at world class institutions including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

For twelve years, she was responsible for the technical analysis of old master paintings from the Samuel H. Kress Collection.

And she has taught art forensics for esteemed graduate programs, including the Institute of Fine Arts at NYU.

Her lecture for the Norfolk Society of Arts detailed the four years she spent, with a small team of other experts, using the latest art forensics technology to analyze raw data and amass information towards authentication of the SALVATOR MUNDI.

As she described that experience and very frankly answered questions after the talk, the audience were wrapt by the topic and also the impression Rieppi gave each of us, in just over an hour’s time, of a shared intimacy with the story and the painting itself.

Nica Gutman Rieppi took time for a tour after her lecture with her friend, Chrysler Museum of Art’s Conservator, Mark Lewis.

Rieppi brought into poignant clarity for our community the ongoing mystery of this masterpiece and its fate.

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