SummerDocs' Second Summer Showing: "The Lost Leonardo" - 27 East

Arts & Living

Arts & Living / 1798842

SummerDocs’ Second Summer Showing: “The Lost Leonardo”

icon 5 Photos
A still from Andreas Koefoed's film, showing at Guild Hall this Saturday.

A still from Andreas Koefoed's film, showing at Guild Hall this Saturday.

Right Robert Simon inspection of the Salvator Mundi at the National Gallery (2011).

Right Robert Simon inspection of the Salvator Mundi at the National Gallery (2011). Copyright Robert Simon. c/o Sony Pictures Classics.

The Salvator Mundi cleaned version. Restoring the crack (2006).

The Salvator Mundi cleaned version. Restoring the crack (2006). Copyright Robert Simon. c/o Sony Pictures Classics.

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

Dianne Modestini and Ashok Roy inspecting the Naples copy of the Salvator Mundi (2019). Copyright THE LOST LEONARDO - Photo by Adam Jandrup. c/o Sony Pictures Classics.

I think this is a promo image not an actual photo so not sure what to write here

I think this is a promo image not an actual photo so not sure what to write here Copyright THE LOST LEONARDO. c/o Sony Pictures Classics

Sophie Griffin on Jul 19, 2021

A damaged painting of Christ goes to auction and is sold for just over $1,000. A few years later, after a restoration, examination by experts, and a blockbuster exhibition, the painting sells for $450 million, making it the most expensive painting ever sold. The story of that painting, the “Salvator Mundi,” painted by Leonardo da Vinci (although some dispute its provenance), is told in “The Lost Leonardo,” screening as part of HamptonsFilm’s SummerDocs series at Guild Hall on Saturday, July 24.

The film, which is mostly told through interviews with curators, art experts and the individuals who have been involved with the “Salvator Mundi,” isn’t just about the journey of the painting and the controversy it inspired. It unravels the important role money, and lots of it, plays in the world of art; it examines how powerful people and nations use cultural objects like da Vinci’s painting as investments and even geopolitical tools; and it showcases how important the painting became to people and the emotional investment that took place alongside the financial one.

Andreas Koefoed, the film’s director, and a team of researchers, writers, and producers made the film over three years, with a two-year research period before shooting started.

“It’s the personal relation between the main characters and the painting that is in the center. We tell the story of the painting, but through the people who were close to it and especially with the restorer, Dianne Modestini,” Koefoed said in a recent phone interview. “That was crucial. I think it adds a kind of psychological and an emotional layer to the story that she has such a special relation to the painting.”

Koefoed explained that weaving together so many different perspectives and narratives in the story was difficult, especially with such vested interests and high stakes involved.

“I think that was actually our biggest challenge because there were so many interesting leads. We also had some people that were more into conspiracy theory,” Koefoed said. “We had to skip that along the way, because we needed to have a focus in the film and we found out that we needed to stay close to the painting all the way through.”

As an illustration of the many various leads, Koefoed mentioned a side story involving Swiss businessman Yves Bouvier who owned the painting before selling it to Russian businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev.

“If we suddenly decided to go deeper into one of the side stories, then we would lose the narrative spine of the film and the film will become a different film,” Koefoed explained. “It was a big challenge to find out, how much do we need to know in order to tell this part of the story? How little can we actually tell and still tell it in an exciting way? There is so much more to tell actually. We’re just scratching the surface, but they’re the right scratches, so to say.”

Because the painting is quite controversial, many of the important players within the story — the National Gallery, the Louvre, Christie’s, the Culture Ministry of Saudi Arabia — actually refused to speak to the filmmakers. The “Salvator Mundi” has become sort of a spectacle itself, with questions of authenticity, contentious relationships, and geopolitical maneuvering all involved. For those who did decide to speak with Koefoed and his team, the history of the painting is teased out across interviews.

“Normally, I actually don’t do films with interviews, but with this it was an obvious choice,” Koefoed said. “So much had already happened when we started [that] we needed to get people to tell the story in a verbal way. We tried to make interviews that were inspired by Renaissance paintings with some natural light and a symmetric composition.”

Additionally, the filmmakers created reenactments, mostly using the real characters involved.

“We had the ambition of living up to Leonardo da Vinci in our visual approach of course knowing that that was impossible. He has been known for — that’s what art historians say about Leonardo da Vinci — that he is really good at both showing the inner life of his characters that he portrayed and the action that they do. Besides the ‘Salvator Mundi,’ all of his characters are always somehow turning or moving in the painting,” he explained. “At the same time, they are showing a part of their inner life, of their psychology. I felt that that was an interesting inspiration for this as well: we are not just showing what people do, but we are also showing their inner lives and their feelings and their thoughts behind what they say. That was the ambition with the interviews, to get behind the mask or the surface.”

After the screening of the film, a Q&A with producer Cristoph Jörg and Evan Beard, an art world banker interviewed in the film, will be led by HamptonsFilm Co-Chairman Alec Baldwin and HamptonsFilm Artistic Director David Nugent.

“I hope that the film will engage the audience and make them become the detectives, and make them make up their own mind about the painting and about the whole story and reflect on their own relation to art and how art is being used in the world today,” Koefoed said.

“The Lost Leonardo” will be screened at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street, East Hampton, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 24. Tickets are $40. For more information and tickets, visit guildhall.org. The film’s theatrical release, in New York City and Los Angeles, is August 13.

You May Also Like:

Review: ‘Beyond The Streets On Paper’ At Southampton Arts Center

Southampton Arts Center “Beyond The Streets on Paper” July 17 to August 28, 2021 Curated ... 28 Jul 2021 by Paton Miller

Sag Harbor Cinema Celebrates Robert Downey Sr.

by Staff Writer

Concert For Affordable Housing Planned August 27 In Southampton

The Town of Southampton Housing Authority and the Ascend Homes & Community Foundation are planning a concert to help raise money for affordable housing efforts on Friday, August 27, in Agawam Park in Southampton Village. The 6:30 p.m. concert will feature an Earth, Wind & Fire tribute band as well as food trucks and vendors. The free event will be geared toward all ages. Sponsors are sought, and net proceeds will go toward workforce housing projects within the town. For more information, email Curtis Highsmith, the executive director of the housing authority, at chighsmith@southamptonha.org, or call 631-905-5380. by Staff Writer

Alan Alda Returns To Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival With A Tale Of Bach

For Alan Alda, effectively communicating with others has long been a prime motivator. After hosting ... 27 Jul 2021 by Annette Hinkle

Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival 2021

The 38th annual Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival will present 13 concerts from August 4 to ... by Staff Writer

Michael Shnayerson Discusses Bugsy Siegel

On Thursday, July 29, at 7:30 p.m., author Michael Shnayerson will discuss his celebrated biography, ... by Staff Writer

‘CROSSROADS’ At The Watermill Center

The Watermill Center’s “CROSSROADS,” a summer festival led by Carrie Mae Weems and Robert Wilson, ... by Staff Writer

Black Film Festival Returns

The Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreational Center (BHCCRC) is presenting its second Black Film Festival with the Parrish Art Museum, and at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 30, will present “Shaina” and the short film “My Father the Mover” outdoors on the museum’s lawn. Bring your own chair to the screening. “Shaina,” directed by Beautie Masvaure Alt, is the story of Shine, a Zimbabwe teenager who doesn’t believe in herself. In the face of life-altering events, she is forced to rely on her ingenuity and determination to face her future. Instilling young women with a growth mindset essential for health, ... by Staff Writer

The Visions Of Three Artists

Hartman On Hudson will present is inaugural show “Three Women: Three Visions,” featuring the work ... by Staff Writer

‘Adventures of A Mathematician’ At Hampton Synagogue Drive-in

Directed by Thor Klein, “Adventures of a Mathematician” is a film that tells the warmhearted ... by Staff Writer
logo

Welcome to our new website!

To see what’s new, click “Start the Tour” to take a tour.

We welcome your feedback. Please click the
“contact/advertise” link in the menu bar to email us.

Start the Tour
Landscape view not supported
Send this to a friend