The Lost Leonardo. The whole story of the most talked about painting of the century will premiere June 13 at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
“This is a film about the incredible journey of a painting, the Salvator Mundi, The Saviour of the world, possibly by Leonardo da Vinci. It is a true story, yet a fairytale worthy of Hans Christian Andersen: A damaged painting, neglected for centuries, is fortuitously rediscovered and soon after praised as a long-lost masterpiece of divine beauty,” says Andreas Koefoed, the Danish director of The Lost Leonardo.
Ahead of the Tribeca Film Festival 2021, Denmark in New York caught up with Andreas Koefoed to discuss the premiere, what the story of The Lost Leonardo is about, and why we must watch it on the big screen.
Denmark in New York: The Lost Leonardo will have its world premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. What does it mean to you, that the film is being screened at one of the world’s most acclaimed film festivals?
Andreas Koefoed: It is a great opportunity for us to show the film to a big American audience. Crucial parts of the film takes place in New York City. The two dealers or sleeper hunters who found the painting in 2005 live there, the restorer who spent four years with the painting is there, and this is also where the painting was sold at Christie’s Auction in 2017, when it became the most expensive piece of art ever sold in the history. So bringing the story back to New York makes perfect sense.
Tell us about how you first got into directing The Lost Leonardo?
AK: One of my fellow students from when I went to The Danish Film School, producer Andreas Dalsgaard, told me the story about the painting. We began researching the painting and it became obvious that there was an amazing story to be told.
What is the story of The Lost Leonardo?
AK: The Lost Leonardo is the inside story behind the Salvator Mundi, the most expensive painting ever sold at $450 million. From the moment the painting is bought for $1175 at a shady New Orleans auction house, and the restorer discovers masterful Renaissance brushstrokes under the heavy varnish of its cheap restoration, the Salvator Mundi’s fate is determined by an insatiable quest for fame, money and power. As its price soars, so do the questions about its authenticity: is this painting really by Leonardo da Vinci?
How do you think the movie will be received in the US?
AK: I think the US audience will like the mystery and stranger than fiction story. The discovery of a long lost treasure clearly has some attraction, but the film also lays bare the mechanisms of the human psyche, our longing for the divine, and the mechanisms of our post-factual capitalist societies in which money and power override the truth. I hope these aspects will give thought for reflection. In addition, I hope the film will engage, surprise and intrigue the viewers who in a way themselves become detectives in the story and leave them with a question: What do I believe to be the truth?
Why should we go watch The Lost Leonardo on the big screen?
AK: We have put a lot of effort into both the visual and the music side of the film. We had the very bold ambition of wanting to live up to da Vinci or at least renaissance paintings in the composition. We have also worked extensively on the music score, so that the music tells the story as much as the words. These elements can only be fully experienced on a big screen.
Katrine Nørholm Jensen is the Strategic Communications and Press intern at Denmark in New York
Sofie Dalhoff Saabye is the Culture and Public Diplomacy intern at Denmark in New York