'Own a piece of art history!'

May 8 2018

Image of 'Own a piece of art history!'

Picture: Ebay

Here's a weird one: a US museum has attempted to sell, via Ebay, the brushes used to restore Leonardo's Salvator Mundi. Here was the Ebay pitch made by the Columbia Museum of Art:

Own a piece of art history! These seven paintbrushes were used to restore Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, which set a new record for the price of an artwork when it sold for $450 million in 2017. [...]

In 2014, Columbia Museum of Art Chief Curator Will South was discussing the restoration of this painting with his friend and colleague Dianne Modestini. He asked if she might be willing to donate the brushes she used to restore the painting to the Columbia Museum of Art. She was. These brushes are now up for auction to support the CMA's mission to celebrate outstanding artistic creativity through its collection, exhibitions, and programs, interacting in ways that engage the mind and enrich the spirit. 

Dr. South framed a photocopy image of the painting in a circa 1900 vintage carved wooden frame matted with archival, acid-free materials. One of the brushes is mounted with micro Velcro for easy removal below the photocopy. The remaining six brushes will be shipped in their box along with the framed brush and image along with a printout of emails that establish their provenance. The museum's curatorial team created a special wooden shipping crate to ship the frame and brushes to the buyer.

The sale was alas unsuccessful; no bids were lodged to meet the $1,000 reserve.

Update - a reader writes:

One would expect that Columbia Museum of Art would know that the 'circa 1900 vintage carved wooden frame' is actually plaster and therefore a rather less attractive offering

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