Wolfgang Beltracchi artist and forger

The Greats - Salvator Mundi

"What reason, I ask myself, should prevent me from letting my imagination run freely, from giving wings to my spirit and painting."

—Wolfgang Beltracchi

In recent years, the painter and legendary art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi has embarked on a new artistic chapter. A focal point of his recent work, created since Wolfgang and Helene Beltracchi relocated to Lake Lucerne in Switzerland, is an extensive series of paintings that have been offered for sale as digital artworks using NFT technology. The starting point for this series was the painting Salvator Mundi, allegedly attributed to Leonardo da Vinci and sold in 2017 at Christie's for a record price of $450 million to the Saudi royal family. Beltracchi has delved deeply into this painting and created several hundred versions of it in various styles under the title "The Greats": Salvator Mundi as Pop Art, in the styles of Cubism, Surrealism, Asian comic art, personifying figures like Mick Jagger, Mao, or Rammstein singer Till Lindemann... It's a fascinating puzzle with the controversial painting and its symbolism.

No less remarkable and fascinating is the fact that Wolfgang Beltracchi draws inspiration for his new works from Leonardo da Vinci, the universal scholar of a period of upheaval and new beginnings. Painting experienced its first great heyday during the Renaissance. Hardly anyone in history stands more for the equally pronounced interest in and comprehensive talent for visionary technology and painterly aesthetics than Leonardo. What a great idea to consequently dare to digitalise artistic expression inspired by this master! And how ambiguous to choose the Salvator Mundi, which is attributed to this great Renaissance artist (even if no one really knows for sure; at that time, after all, there were no NFTs). With this work as the starting point, Beltracchi outlines his own interpretation of art history’s most famous painting styles and at the same time, by interpreting past works, takes a leap into the new anarchic world of the digital. Typical for Beltracchi.

"The Greats – Salvator Mundi" Exhibition

Wolfgang Beltracchi exhibition at Tonhalle Zurich Switzerland The Greats by Salvator Mundi

20 November, 2021 | Tonhalle Zürich, Switzerland

On the occasion of "UNVERFÄLSCHT SZENISCHE LESUNG", Wolfgang Beltracchi exhibited at the Tonhalle in Zürich selection of his paintings from his latest series "The Greats – Salvator Mundi".

Find Out More