That the world’s super-rich own vast sums of wealth and squirrel it away in whatever ways they can find is nothing new. The revelations of the Paradise Papers confirmed their behaviour.
But the news that Salvator Mundi, the long-lost Leonardo da Vinci painting of Jesus Christ commissioned by King Louis XII of France more than 500 years ago, has sold at Christie’s in New York for $450.3m, including auction house premium, shattering the world record for any work of art sold at auction takes capitalist chicanery to a whole new level.
This obscene amount was paid on the same day that a letting agency in Grimsby issued hundreds of tenants with a pre-emptive eviction notice ahead of the rollout of universal credit.
And at a time of unrelenting austerity, justified by the mantra ‘we’ve got to live within our means’ still spewed out by a discredited, illegitimate Tory government and their bag carriers of the media, underlines the imperative of changing the whole system.
The painting was consigned to Christie’s by Russian fertiliser oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, who plundered the Russian state controlled facility when the wall came down.
This transaction is a method of the super-rich, with more wealth than they know what to do with, to feed their egos and to hedge their wealth against a possible economic collapse.
Ironically, this is the portrait of JC (not Jeremy). A man who organised the poor and downtrodden against the roman dictatorship, who drove the Thatcherite money-changers out of the temple, and who preached the brotherhood of man. This trouble-causer was, of course, crucified. I’m sure he would stand aghast at his pic being used to feed the greed of the oligarchs.
To give us a proper view of what wealth exists and the funds to invest in jobs and services we would require the nationalisation of the banks and finance companies under democratic workers’ control and management.
This would also allow the bank accounts of the rich to be frozen and transactions controlled to prevent them trying send their money abroad to protect their wealth from such progressive measures. I’m sure both JCs would approve.