Stolen copy of Da Vinci’s most expensive art work found in a flat in Naples

Published January 20, 2021, 3:22 PM

by John Legaspi

The replica is believed to be 500 years old

Having a masterpiece made by a well-known artist like Leonardo Da Vinci can instantly make you a rich man. Acquiring a copy of one, say a replica of his most expensive work, might just do the same. 

Such is the case recently solved by Italian police in Naples after they found a 500-year-old copy of Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi in a flat in Naples and returned it to its home, the San Domenico Maggiore church. The thing is, the church had no idea it was stolen, since there was no sign of any break-in.

Believed to be painted by Giacomo Alibrandi in the 1500s, the copy of the artwork depicts an image of Jesus Christ and a crystal orb. It was found in the bedroom cupboard of an apartment owned by a 36-year-old, who said he got the painting from a flea market.

“The painting was found on Saturday thanks to a brilliant and diligent police operation,” said Naples prosecutor Giovanni Melillo in a story by AFP. “There was no complaint on the matter and in fact we contacted the (church) prior, who was not aware of its disappearance, as the room where the painting is kept has not been open for three months.”

Photo courtesy of AFP

In 2015, the Da Vinci original work and the copy were presented together in an exhibit shown to Pope Francis during his visit. Two years later, Da Vinci’s work set a world record for being the most expensive artwork sold in an auction, amounting to $450 million. 

According to reports, the piece was purchased by Prince Mohammad bin Salman and was set to be displayed at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. The artwork has not been seen by the public since the auction.