Lewis is keenly aware, if not earnestly committed to exposing, the perils of the unregulated art market, and has implicated most of the contemporary art world, from artists to dealers to oligarchs, in its monstrous inflation ... Although it is hard not to be impressed by Leonardo da Vinci, the swarm of scholars who have interpreted his manuscripts and codices can easily overstate his genius. Lewis’ portrait of the artist-engineer, however, as a 'dreamer, a doodler, and a dawdler,' is refreshingly compelling ... Lewis seems, at times, at pains to refute their claims about the painting, and to make new ones. But he’s wise enough to realise that the value of the Salvator Mundi, like it’s supposed sister Mona Lisa, is in the questions, not the answers, which are prompted by the faint smile its history evokes. Although many of his sources would disdain the idea that their work served any 'practical economic purpose,' there is no doubt that they’ve helped Ben Lewis put together a deliciously detailed, satisfying book, that is simultaneously a call for change.
The story of the world’s most expensive painting is narrated with great gusto and formidably researched detail in Ben Lewis’s book ... Lewis has a background in arts journalism and documentary films: snappy reportage of mega-buck deals is his element. But to his credit, much of the book is in a rather different mode of patient historical investigation. He examines the chequered career of the painting from its inception – probably in Milan, sometime around 1507-10 – which leads him into areas where lurk many more questions than answers.
Ben Lewis brings his combined skills to bear in The Last Leonardo, a page-turning tale about the most expensive painting of all time. It’s a story populated by characters straight out of a thriller ... The story Mr. Lewis tells is about what happens when art becomes an asset class.