Can You Spot the Problem with Leonardo da Vinci's Masterpiece?

Art experts are baffled by a detail in Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, Salvator Mundi (or Savior of the World). The work, which was painted around 1500 (which was about the same time he painted the Mona Lisa), is worth approximately $100 million and will be sold at auction on November 15 of this year by Christie’s New York.

See if you can spot the problem before you scroll down:


In da Vinci biographer Walter Isaacson’s soon-to-be-published book, Leonardo da Vinci: The Biography, the author explores an issue with the orb in the painting at hand. Christ is shown holding a clear glass orb in his left hand, but such an object would magnify, invert or reverse any object shown behind it. Such is not the case in da Vinci’s painting, and experts are wondering why not.

According to, the master painted the orb like a “hollow glass bubble” that doesn’t distort objects behind it. “Isaacson contends that if da Vinci intended for the orb to exist in reality, Christ’s robes and arm would have been inverted within it.” In the book, Isaacson wonders if da Vinci “chose not to paint it that way, either because he thought it would be a distraction … or because he was subtly trying to impart a miraculous quality to Christ and his orb.”

For years, the true artist behind the painting was forgotten, as a portion of it was painted over. In fact, Christie’s sold Salvator Mundi for only £45 in 1958, according to the Daily Mail. But in 2011 “the work was confirmed as a genuine Leonardo and unveiled publicly – making it the first discovery of a painting by Da Vinci since 1909.” According to The New York Times, the piece is currently owned by a European art collector.