In fact, the crown prince had secretly shipped the “Salvator Mundi” to the Louvre more than a year earlier, in 2018, according to several French officials and a confidential French report on its authenticity that was obtained by The New York Times. The report also states that the painting belongs to the Saudi Culture Ministry — something the Saudis have never acknowledged.

A team of French scientists subjected the unframed canvas to a weekslong forensic examination with some of the most advanced technology available to the art world, and in their undisclosed report they had pronounced with more authority than any previous assessment that the painting appeared to be the work of Leonardo’s own hand.

ImageThe Louvre arranged to examine the “Salvator Mundi,” seeking to include it in an exhibition. Analysts concluded it was the work of Leonardo.
Credit…Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

Yet the Saudis had withheld it nonetheless, for entirely different reasons: a disagreement over a Saudi demand that their painting of Jesus should hang next to the “Mona Lisa,” several French officials said last week, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks were confidential.

Far from a dispute about art scholarship, the withdrawal of the painting appears instead to have turned on questions of power and ego.

Some art world skeptics say they suspect the Saudis were never serious about including the painting in the French show, and had wanted to keep the work under wraps to increase the commercial potential of installing it later at a planned tourism site in the kingdom. Current and former French officials, though, say that the Saudis were eager for their newly acquired trophy to hang at the Louvre, as long as it was placed beside the world’s most famous painting.

Dismissing those demands as irrational and unworkable, the French, in turn, refused to make public their own positive assessment of its authenticity unless the Saudis let the “Salvator Mundi” be included in the exhibition in the Louvre, which the French government oversees.

And the resulting diplomatic standoff between the French and the Saudis has kept the painting out of sight as the cloud of intrigue around it continues to swell.

The anonymous buyer of the “Salvator Mundi” was found to be acting as a surrogate for the kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“Frankly, I think all that taradiddle would have evaporated,” said Luke Syson, the director of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England, a curator who oversaw a 2011 Leonardo exhibition at the National Gallery in London that included the “Salvator Mundi.”

If only the painting were displayed, he explained, “people could decide for themselves by experiencing the picture.”

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This seems like a big deal

link to story


The variability in the percentage of the population required to achieve herd immunity is shockingly huge, even if you throw out the low-ball ones.

The scientific research and calculations and money required to winnow the variables before a crisis has to pale in comparison to how much an uninformed response to covid has cost the state and the world so far.



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On Sunday, Mr. Trump tweeted, “Like every American, I deserve to meet my accuser.”

Why yes, Mr Fuck-stick, you certainly are entitled to meet your accuser. In court.

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and because it’ll spend most of its time there until then anyway

It really is about the enormous amount of guns we have and the ease with which we can obtain more.



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It is August, 2019

If I ever have to choose, I’d rather be deaf than blind. That said, music is one hell of a consolation prize.

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Kentucky Derby

Who knew there were rules in horse racing?

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When your muse is banging on all cylinders

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There was this group of American kids on the steps outside the Venice train station;

each had a bottle of wine she was drinking, each was sitting next to her backpack.

It was 9 in the evening

or so,

we guessed they were planning where to sleep for the night.

Christiane said “I can’t imagine doing what they’re doing— I could imagine it a few years ago, but not now.”

I said “If they could afford hotels, they couldn’t imagine doing what they’re doing.”

They were 20, 21, looked like they were having fun, smiles and shouts and post-teenage posturing. Girl 1 said she was going to be famous in 5 years, girl 2 said she wanted to be a rock star, girl 3 thought maybe she’d be peeling potatoes.

Swiggin from big-ass bottles of red italian wine, i’m sure they’re all wrong.

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40 years ago today

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With apologies to Sidney Harris, whose artwork I appropriated.

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Good dogs

Good dogs just know to stick with their person everywhere, even when things aren’t going their way at the moment. Just know it: “Sticking with this lost four year-old is my best and only option right now.” Stick to them under any circumstances. Through thick and thin.

That’s a very endearing trait.


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Proof that there are rocks on top of other rocks out there in space

It’s hard not to imagine standing there, as far from home as you could be.


More super interesting stuff from the Rosetta Probe.

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They’re ALL going to die

I just noticed that they’re all going to die. They’re all going to die. I need to stop saying “Oh, that’s too bad” when celebrities keel over, because they’re all going to do that at some point, until I do.

Gonna buy me a snare drum or a gong and hit it once every time I hear about a famous person dying, it’ll be more appropriate somehow. Hit it twice when Sir David Attenborough dies.

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I look at a video of some pet ferret doing ferret things, with uniquely lovable ferret-y interactions with its people and I think “they could be incorporated.” The weltanshauung has enough room for a third beast and its peculiar shenanigans.

I’d like to occasionally call upon my skills as a person who’s interacted with a ferret or two over the years, maybe at a neighbor’s house. But I’ve never interacted with a ferret, so I’d have to fake it. I’d love to be given the opportunity to fake it!

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Greenland today

Earlier today!

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Violent E pauses to philosophize in Jarkhand

That took longer than I thought it would

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because for fuck-sake, art

It should be taken as a given that intelligent criticism of any art is that-art-based, and not a denial of that form to be an art.

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It’s kind of old, but it’s a handy link.


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Miss USA

Go pat yourselves on the back for trying to regain relevancy, you superannuated fucks. 

Why do we have pageants in 2017? This century isn’t what I imagined it to be at all.


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