• The Last Leonardo

  • The Secret Lives of the World's Most Expensive Painting
  • By: Ben Lewis
  • Narrated by: Peter Noble
  • Length: 12 hrs and 34 mins
  • Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Art
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (71 ratings)

Audible Premium Plus

$14.95 a month

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $31.50

Buy for $31.50

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

An epic quest exposes hidden truths about Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, therecently discovered masterpiece that sold for $450 million - and might not be the real thing. 

In 2017, Leonardo da Vinci’s small oil painting the Salvator Mundi was sold at auction. In the words of its discoverer, the image of Christ as savior of the world is “the rarest thing on the planet.” Its $450 million sale price also makes it the world’s most expensive painting. 

For two centuries, art dealers had searched in vain for the Holy Grail of art history: a portrait of Christ as the Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci. Many similar paintings of greatly varying quality had been executed by Leonardo’s assistants in the early 16th century. But where was the original by the master himself? In November 2017, Christie’s auction house announced they had it. But did they? 

The Last Leonardo tells a thrilling tale of a spellbinding icon invested with the power to make or break the reputations of scholars, billionaires, kings, and sheikhs. Ben Lewis takes us to Leonardo’s studio in Renaissance Italy; to the court of Charles I and the English Civil War; to Amsterdam, Moscow, and New Orleans; to the galleries, salerooms, and restorer’s workshop as the painting slowly, painstakingly emerged from obscurity. The vicissitudes of the highly secretive art market are charted across six centuries. It is a twisting tale of geniuses and oligarchs, double-crossings and disappearances, in which we’re never quite certain what to believe. Above all, it is an adventure story about the search for lost treasure, and a quest for the truth. 

Praise for The Last Leonardo

“The story of the world’s most expensive painting is narrated with great gusto and formidably researched detail in Ben Lewis’s book.... Lewis’s probings of the Salvator’s backstory raise questions about its historical status and visibility, and these lead in turn to the fundamental question of whether the painting is really an autograph work by Leonardo.” (Charles Nicholl, The Guardian

“As the art historian and critic Ben Lewis shows in his forensically detailed and gripping investigation into the history, discovery and sales of the painting, establishing the truth is like nailing down jelly.” (Michael Prodger, The Sunday Times)

©2019 Ben Lewis (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Narrator Peter Noble takes the listener deep inside the rarefied world of those who deal in paintings by the Old Masters. Speaking with the erudition of an art history professor lecturing in London's National Gallery, Noble adds to the sense of mystery in this true story." (AudioFile Magazine)

“As the art historian and critic Ben Lewis shows in his forensically detailed and gripping investigation into the history, discovery and sales of the painting, establishing the truth is like nailing down jelly.” (Michael Prodger, The Sunday Times

More from the same

What listeners say about The Last Leonardo

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    51
  • 4 Stars
    14
  • 3 Stars
    4
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    50
  • 4 Stars
    13
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    46
  • 4 Stars
    10
  • 3 Stars
    5
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely fascinating, beautifully read aloud

This is a very long book alighting on the known life of DaVinci and of the business of art from his time all the way to the present. Meticulously researched and written with verve and humor this is much more than a delving into a single painting. It’s a treasure trove of art history. Ben Lewis’ voice is like the ocean. You don’t want to stop listening.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic!!

My top nonfiction book of 2019!! Well researched... well narrated... long live Leonardo.... any maybe just maybe the painting is his.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating mystery-like search for the last Leonardo....

As well as a poignant comment on our current society with all of its highs and lows.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Worthy of our bookclub

This book was recommended by the Wall Street Journal and is well worth the read. It is a fascinating complex blend of the art history and biography of Leonardo together with the dilemma faced in the world of art economics. There is a very colorful cast of characters who play critical roles in creating, restoring (or recreating), and handling this piece of art over the centuries.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Outstanding book!!! I got a full size picture of SALVATOR MUNDI to study as I read/listened. I have it on Audible and the book..

I could not put it down . A mystery and a history lesson. I will need to digest the 450 million dollar cost.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Intreguing story about a fascinating controversy

This is a great book for those who enjoy art as well as a good mystery.