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Bid Rejected: Leonardo Is Not Going To Dallas

Dallas has been a bit deflated. The Dallas Museum of Art’s bid to buy the newly discovered Leonardo, Salvator Mundi, has been rejected. The amount offered — which I have not been able to determine — was not high enough.

July11_leonardo200x289Since July (see my previous post), the painting has been in Dallas, and museum director Max Anderson has raised “tens of millions” of dollars to buy it. Anderson believed it would be a “destination painting,” driving attendance to the museum to see one of two Leonardo paintings in American public collections. One source said “Max worked tirelessly” to enlist museum donors and people who had not been donors in the past. Many were enthusiastic, but it’s unclear how many came through.

But the owners, still a mystery, were seeking some $200 million for it. And while the work is now almost universally accepted as being by the master, at least for the most part, some people did not see it as worth that much. Who knows? A painting is worth what someone will pay.

I have heard, too, that the owners did not hold out — that they wanted the picture to go to the Dallas museum, if possible. “Many accommodations were made,” a source says. In the end, there was a gap — how big, no one is telling me.

The museum has issued a statement saying, in part:

While the museum’s leadership was hopeful that the painting would be acquired for the benefit and enjoyment of the public, they are incredibly inspired by and grateful for the outpouring of community support for the campaign to acquire this work.

Anderson, according to the Dallas Morning News, said it “was a privilege to be responsible for the safekeeping of this masterwork as we assembled commitments towards its purchase. The fortunate few who saw it in person will not soon forget its beauty, power and majesty.”

The picture has left Dallas and is now back in New York, I’m told.




  1. Just as well … as a “destination painting ” the Dallas art museum seemed to be buying a name not the art. Come
    to Dallas and see a Da Vinci ! Deplorable . Now that they have all this money set aside perhaps they should
    with the left over money do what museums were designed to do – minus the circus of having a work by
    a “name “.

  2. Museums build collections that relevant to their community. I was always struck by the great taste of the Dallas citizens who donated works from their private collections to the museum. Anderson is a great fundraiser and has taste. perhaps the potential donors could be guided to continue to build on the impressive collections already there. A Da Vinci at the DMA? What’s next? A Michelangelo at the Nasher?

  3. Michael M Thomas says

    Last year, the show of Alexander McQueen at the Metropolitan Museum drew 611,000 visitors over several months and was deemed a HUGE success. Almost fifty years ago, in the dead of winter, in a city and world much smaller and less mobile than today, the Mona Lisa came to the Met and drew over a million visitors! This box-office fact is not lost on museum directors. Leonardo kills!

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