Leonardo’s “Salvator Mundi”: The Real Story

Monday 4th November 5.00PM GMT


Explore the real story behind the world’s most expensive painting, with eminent art historian and Leonardo scholar, Dr Antonio Mazzotta. Join live or watch on catch-up.

The Salvator Mundi is now one of the most famous paintings in the world. It sold at auction in 2017 for over $450 million, making it the most expensive painting ever auctioned, having previously been acquired for just £45 in 1958 when it was attributed to Leonardo’s greatest pupil, Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio. Since its extensive conservation (owing to the loss of much of the original composition) and recent acquisition, the work has incited heated debate regarding its authenticity, with some attributing it to the master himself, whilst others attribute it one of his pupils or followers. Our lecture will reveal the hidden story behind the painting, analysing it as both an artwork but also a product of international marketing, and revealing whether it should indeed be regarded as a masterpiece by Leonardo.

Dr Antonio Mazzotta is a lecturer in the History of Art at the University of Milan and a leading expert on Venetian and Lombard art of the Renaissance.  He studied at the University of Milan and at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London and worked at the National Gallery between 2008-2010, where he curated the exhibition Titian’s First Masterpiece: The Flight Into Egypt (2012). In 2018-2019 he curated an exhibition at the Castello Sforzesco (Milan) on the origins of the iconography of Michelangelo’s Pietà (Vesperbild: Alle origini delle Pietà di Michelangelo). In 2023 Dr Mazzotta co-curated Titian 1508: At the Beginning of a Luminous Career at the Gallerie dell’ Accademia in Venice. Dr Mazzotta has led a number of lectures and livestream tours for Art History in Focus, including broadcasts from the Pinacoteca di Brera, the Castello Sforzesco, the Bagatti Valsecchi Museum and the Gallerie dell’ Accademia. We are delighted to welcome him once more this evening.


This is a live event starting at 5.00pm (UK time).  It will last approximately one hour including interactive Q&A. Tune in live from anywhere in the world, or if you cannot participate live, you will automatically be sent a recording soon after the end of the session enabling you to watch later that day or during the following 3 days. The recording will be available until 7th November at midnight (UK). Please note, the recording is only available to those who have not been able to participate live, and it is not possible to purchase a recording after booking has closed.

Booking closes the day before the event is streamed. Please refer to the Further Information panel below.

Further Information


1. BOOK.

Click on the gold “Book This Course/Event” button, fill in the online booking form and pay online. You will be notified automatically by email once your booking has been accepted.

Please ensure you enter your email address correctly, as your Zoom link will be sent to this address, thank you.

The participation fee is £10 per person, if making bookings for a number of people please provide their email addresses and book them as separate participants.


Download ZOOM once you have booked – please print/download the instructions in this downloadable link and read them carefully. Zoom works best when using Google Chrome.


You will receive an email approximately 24-48 hours in advance of the event asking you to register.** This is a privacy function enabling only registered participants to attend. After registering you will automatically receive the Zoom log in link – please keep this safe

** Please note that these details are sent out in office hours, so if you book on a weekend you may not receive them until Monday. You must register with the same name that you have booked under, otherwise you may not be able to watch. If you have not received your email confirmations, please check your ‘deleted items’ and ‘junk mail’ folders or click here for advice.


Join the event up to ten minutes before it is scheduled to start, to ensure everything is working.

If you are not able to watch the event at the time it is live-streamed, you can watch on catch up. Just book online as normal and you will be contacted soon after the event with instructions on how to access the recording. This will be available to watch on catch up later that evening and for the following 3 days. You do not need to advise us if you can’t participate live, don’t worry! Please note, the recording is only available to those who have not been able to participate live, and it is not possible to purchase a recording after booking has closed.

Bookings close the day before the event is streamed.

Please refer to our Terms and Conditions for booking this event. We regret that we are unable to offer technical support with Zoom but tips can be found in the attachment. If you would like to book more than one event, please book separately for each event that you would like to attend, thank you. If you are booking for more than one person, it is important that you include their email address so that we can send them the lecture link too. We regret we are unable to offer refunds but don’t worry if you are not able to attend, as we will send you the recording link.

Image: Attr. Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, Private Collection. Photograph: Google Cultural Institute, Public Domain