From Fingerprints to Champagne Spills: Expert Conservators on How to Handle New Art Damage
Art conservation--generally the purview of trade publications--became major news this fall with the case of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World). The painting, which sold at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale this past November, realized a price of over $450 million. Yet, it also attracted much attention for the dramatic lengths that conservators had gone to alter the surface. Publications from The Daily Mail to New York Magazine discussed the intensive alterations that a world-class team had made to the warped and scratched original. da Vinci made the painting around 1500, and it cycled through many owners before arriving at auction; there was plenty of time to incur damage.