The Hand of Leonardo

Apr 23, 2019

The authenticator ref absolves everyone of blame. And sometimes generates money out of thin air. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

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so ladies and gentlemen we moved to the Leonardo DaVinci the salvator Mundi the Masterpiece by Leonardo of Christ as Savior previous in the collections of Three Kings of England art at 90 million being auction The Parting of rich people from their money 95 and I go 110 over here it takes me back to the early 1980s and my first job after college I was the stock boy for a New York art dealer called Wilden Steen

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just about everything about the place felt like a secret except for how it had started at the end of the 19th century a Jewish Street Peddler in Paris named Nathan Wildenstein traded Rags for paintings with some Oddball artists they called themselves the Impressionists he did this so well that by the time I got to the wilden's dean's the family had the most valuable private collection of art in the world huge vaults lined with racks of Monet's and Renoir Roars and Pizarro's that know

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and it ever seen

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they had Rembrandt's they had Rafael's they had 69 fragonard's today the whole collection would fetch 50 billion dollars easily but it was a strange business selling art so guarded the Wildenstein family didn't even really want customers to know what they had for sale to keep their tax status as a public Gallery they stuck a few obscure paintings on the downstairs walls the rest they kept hidden upstairs with me

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and so when people ask me what I actually did for the Wilden steam Gallery I found it hard to explain one of my predecessors had put his foot through asses on clearly my job was not to do that

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but most of the time I just sat in a small cubby upstairs and waited to be asked to move the art around

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there was the aroma of cologne worn by Rich Frenchman but otherwise the place was a sensory deprivation chamber weeks would pass without anyone showing up

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then one day Thomas hoving appeared hoping it just spent a decade running the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was still a huge deal in the art world

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the will dance teens told me to show him whatever he wanted to see no one else got that sort of treatment hoving trusted his first impressions actually that's not quite right he made a fetish of his first impressions as I haul paintings in and out of the viewing room he stood with his back to me he refused so much as to Glimpse the pictures until I had them set up on the easel I grunt and groan under some laughing Cavalier by Franz Halls

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and hoisted onto the red velvet easel then I'd say ready and he'd swivel kind of like a gunfighter and blurt whatever popped into his head

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Sublime luminous 19th century copy and every now and then hit swivel and holler fake

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life in the art world had made Thomas hoving weary as he stood in front of artworks in the wilderness teen Vault he told me that half the paintings in American museums were not by the person whose name was on the wall they were by someone else and assistant a follower a forger hoving said that was the point of all the secrecy to hide the way the art world really worked in the way it worked was that the referees in the Art Market the

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to declared a painting was by this old master or that one those experts were encouraged to make mistakes a ref who attributed a painting to a famous artist was paid a lot better than a ref who said it was by some obscure assistant hoving may have been the single savviest player the Art Market has ever seen by my time at Wildenstein he was representing private collectors and he didn't want his clients to be fleeced he trusted his first impressions because they

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was nothing else to trust the art World more or less was rigged that's what he was saying and the referees help to rig it the rest were paid to say yes yes it's a Rembrandt yes it's a Monet yes it's a Leonardo

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where is that 150 welcome at 150 million on the left 160 might take it at 150 million many places still 160th I'm Michael Lewis and this is against the rules a show about the attack on the authority of the referees in American life and what that's doing to our idea of fairness

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200 million in Spain give me 10 at 200 million has been to other business here currently hanging with Alex on my right at 200 million for the Leonardo at 200 million looking for 210 so you coming back in at 240 million

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connoisseurs used to be the ultimate Arbiter especially in legal cases even this is Walter Isaacson he's written books about Ben Franklin and Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs and now he's written about Leonardo DaVinci and told the story of this mysterious painting supposedly by Leonardo of Jesus Christ Walter's interested in who gets to decide who painted one and how they decide the

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refs they would bring in Thomas hoving or people like that and they would make a pronouncement and then just not not Brook any dissent whatsoever as it happens Walter and I went to the same High School in New Orleans he was 8 years ahead of me

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every couple of years the entire student body of the Isidore Newman school would be herded into the school auditorium to hear Walter speak there we were told all over again that we should all be a bit more like Walter in every time Walter had some new Achievement First had gone to Harvard then he'd been a Rhodes scholar then he'd been the youngest editor ever at Time Magazine

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God knows if that was even true but that's what they told us and here he and I are again he's somehow now written the best biography of Leonardo da Vinci

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which brings us to this painting called Salvador Mundi and a question who painted it there are a few facts you need to know about the Salvador Mundi the first is that it depicts a common subject in the history of Western Art Christ as the Saviour of the world been painted thousands and thousands of times in more or less the same way Jesus looking bored or even a bit stoned stares Straight Ahead his left hand

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and holds a globe in his right hand is held up by his side in the version I'm talking about Jesus has his fingers crossed like maybe he's just fibbing

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the second thing you need to know about this particular painting called salvator Mundi it was auctioned by Christie's in November 2017 up to that point there was no record of Leonardo da Vinci having painted it most paintings by Leonardo can be linked to documents that describe Leonardo working on it or promising to work on it or at least pretending to work on it he painted so little and so reluctantly that whatever he did paint usually struck

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contemporaries as worth mentioning the salvator Mundi has got nothing not so much as a footnote in Leonardo's Diaries one of Leonardo's assistance mentions Leonardo being asked to paint something called Christ the father and that's it last thing most of Leonardo's paintings have his actual fingerprints on them he liked to smudge the paint are there any fingerprints on the salvator Mundi his or anybody know there's well now there's no

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no Leonardo fingerprint that authenticates it but the first mention of what might be the painting comes in 1651 that's 132 years after Leonardo died a piece of Christ done by Leonardo was listed along with the rest of Charles the first possessions after he was beheaded in London for treason but it's unclear exactly which piece of Christ it was around the same time

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I'm a Czech artist named Wenceslas hauler made an engraving of Jesus as Savior of the world that engraving was said to be a copy of a Leonardo but that engraving also looks like any number of Salvador Mondays it was a genre by this point and if anyone back in those days had any conviction that Leonardo painted this particular salvator Mundi they did a really good job of hiding their feelings

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meanwhile the painting that Christy's eventually sold that got tossed around for years as if it had no special value right through the 18th and 19th centuries the picture was identified as the work of someone called Bernardino loony then later as the copy of a work by someone else called Bowl trophy oh

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and no one really bothered to keep track of it by the 1950s it was officially lost

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oh but it wasn't lost it was in New Orleans hanging just a short walk from the houses where Walter and I live right through our childhoods it had been bought in the late 1950s in London for 45 pounds by a New Orleans couple named Warren and many Koontz the Coots has lived on the same street as my parents six blocks away every day for roughly eight years I rode my bicycle to school passed this mysterious painting who knew not me

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not Walter no one

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anyway Warren and many Koontz died and left their art collection to their nephew in 2004 the nephew died and his air is sold at through a New Orleans auction house that's where New York art dealer Robert Simon pay $10,000 for it's hard to say what it was it was a severely damaged torso and head of a sad-looking Stoner holding a crystal orb yeah it started with Robert Simon and a couple of the dealers who

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kind of found it had a sense of what it might be then they have it cleaned cleaned I mean what exactly did they do well they over cleaned it and over restored it many critics would say the question is how many current brush Strokes on that piece of wood actually were from a brush being held by the hand of Leonardo and I suspect not many because you know probably done by artists in the studio and certainly

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the restoration when it was found in Louisiana Jesus had a beard so they take the beard off of him in the restoration because the Wenceslas hollered copy done three or four centuries ago didn't have a beard so when they were store they take the beard off so it begins to get more amusing maybe but even after the Salvador Mundi has been repainted to feel more like a Leonardo it still doesn't feel much like a lien on

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our dough for example the crystal orb is a real problem at least if you want to believe Leonardo painted it reading your book the person I'm reading about would Revel in showing the optical effects of the clear globe on the other side of the globe and he doesn't do that right and that's a bit of a mystery what you have there is a crystal orb that Jesus is holding and a crystal orb as Leonardo very well knew because he studied

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has and the focusing of light would have distorted the robe of Jesus and yet there's not the tiniest bit of distortion in the Robes of Jesus but what the restorer does to the painting may be less important than what she doesn't do this would be the moment to test the pain to see if it's a sort of stuff that Leonardo used to test the wood to see how old it is and to do this out in the open the people who had this pain

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the dealers who discovered it and we're trying to authenticate it they had it restored by Goodwill stores but all done in secret it wasn't as if we have what we think is a Leonardo and we want a hundred experts in and we're going to invite television Crews and and scientists and as we strip off parts of the paint and take his beard off and you know repaint some of The Strokes that would have been a period where you probably could have had more independent scientific and technical analysis

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I think they were keeping it under wraps and for reasons I understand but aren't totally perfect reasons what would be the good reason to do that I think that they wanted to keep it under wraps because they hadn't finished authenticating they had and put it up for sale

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it's pretty great you find this painting in Louisiana you really hope it's a Leonardo so you can sell it as a Leonardo but the smart way to do this is to keep it in hiding for a while then they first go to The Experts of referees and only now after the paintings been gussied up by its new owners do the authenticators get involved but not openly the new owners don't just call in any

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referee who might have something useful to say about Leonardo era paintings after Jesus has been repainted heavily and he looks a lot more like a Leonardo than he did before the new owners hand pick the refs they want to see the painting in a way that makes the refs feel like they're being invited into an exclusive Club they send them this note saying we all convinced that it is Leonardo's original version although some of us consider that the maybe Parts which are by the workshop would you be free

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to come to London at any time in this period we are only inviting two or three Scholars only two or three Scholars that wasn't against the rules reenactment by the way one of the authenticators later declares the painting Look to Him uniquely Leonardo in conceptual terms in the way it looks at the sheer complexity of seeing what stands out for me no one seems to object-- to these authenticators assessing the painting in the presence of people with a financial

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shal stake in their judgments

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and by the time the scholars show up the stakes are huge

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if two or three reps declare the picture Leonardo it will be included in a blockbuster Leonardo show at the National Gallery in London and the experts declare yes it's a Leonardo that's not a queuing at one

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blinds I think it was 700 when we got people camping out on museum steps for a spot but they all seem perfectly happy to give videos on the national gallery's website for years to come there are people who get expressions like this almost the science of pilgrimage to make contact with a genius from the past

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so that was the 2011 show at the National Gallery and guess what happens after it the salvator Mundi is sold in secret to a Russian billionaire for 110 million dollars the Russian billionaire sticks it in a Swiss warehouse for a few years and then puts it up for auction at Christie's for those of you following online you may not have heard it the bid was 350 was called on the telephone at 350 million for Leonardo Salvador Monday at

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50 million here Christie's at 350 million and looking for another bid please for our swap at 350

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when that painting was being sold you didn't hear Whispers of doubt it was definitely by Leonardo by the time it was sold yeah well they did a very good publicity job and even I was on some panels that they organized and you know they rolled it out beautifully and brought it to San Francisco and Leonardo DiCaprio look at it and you know it was very well handled not just the going through the traps of authentication but also the publicity traps and

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then I realize this wasn't because it was even Leonardo or because of the inherent value of the painting it was because it was called the last Leonardo was the way they marketed this at the auction the point isn't whether or not this particular salvator Mundi is a Leonardo I have no idea of a brush attached to the hand of Leonardo da Vinci was responsible for any of The Strokes on the thing

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the point is that no one else does either there is no good evidence one way or the other only the opinions of a few rafts and the refs are clearly more compromised than you'd ideally want such a person to be you know you have many ways of making money off of you get to write the book the catalog if it turns out to be Leonardo it's much better than saying hey no no that's just a 20th century fake they may or may not have been paid directly for their opinions but they do

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much better for themselves if they say yes yes it's a Leonardo until now this entire podcast has been about the death of the referee everywhere you turn you can find referees under assault their Authority questioned their expertise doubted but there's an exception a certain kind of ref still retains enormous power and Prestige the authenticator the

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who are there to assure us that a thing is real once you start looking for these sorts of refs you see them everywhere and the money they can manufacture more or less out of thin air

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this episode is brought to you by the new podcast go and see hosted by our very own Malcolm Gladwell produced by the team behind revisionist history go and see is a six-part series focused on Alexis and the philosophy of genchi genbutsu which means they tell me go and see for yourself

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visit backslash curiosity for more stories like these

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let's consider the market for used cars just for a minute so I buy the car I drive it off the lot I'm not doing anything crazy nothing happens to the car then I can't sell the car for what it's worth so that's the point here you have a case where a market has disappeared that's George akerlof professor of Economics he's famous in part because he's married to Janet Yellen who was the chairman of the Federal Reserve but he's also famous for some thoughts he had on his own

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back in the late 1950s a seemingly obvious question crossed his mind why does a brand new car lose so much value the moment it leaves the lat it's the same car why should it plumb it almost instantly up till then Economist assume that buyers and sellers come to a transaction with basically the same information but with things like used cars that's obviously not true maybe the buyer and seller don't have the same information you think that the

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seller has more information than the buyer the seller knows that that car just yesterday went over that terrible bump and then something else went wrong and they immediately decided uh I've had this car too long I'm going to see if I can sell it to somebody else so akerlof wrote this paper called the market for lemons

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it shows that when the seller knows more than the buyer and the buyer knows that the buyer lowers the price he's willing to pay and he lowers it to the point where only the sellers of really crappy used cars are willing to deal causing the buyers to lower their prices even further it becomes a vicious cycle under the weight of all those lemons the market simply collapses a trusted ref can

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make this kind of Market work by making the buyer feel protected from whatever Secrets the seller might have by making the buyer feel like he's not getting a lemon there's no market for a badly damaged painting of Jesus Christ until a few art ref step in and say yes it's a Leonardo

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the ref exist to restore the illusion that there are no secrets now you might think why would a market in need of a neutral ref wind up with a ref who actually isn't neutral

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but look around it happens a lot just ask Steve Eisman while though people seem to know me as The Big Short Allah Michael Lewis Steve Carell played Iseman in the movie as a character with such a gift for insulting Wall Street big shots that the people who work for him would go to meetings just to watch but the bigger point about Iseman is that he didn't trust anyone not even the refs and is distrust made him Rich the crash of 2008

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gets called a housing crisis but it was more of a trust crisis people trusted the ratings agencies whose job was to evaluate the risk of subprime home loans and they will give different letters to them so the best rating is AAA which means the probability of loss is almost zero these ratings agencies Moody's and Standard & Poor they were the refs whose calls Iseman decided he didn't trust

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and and and what pressures were there have been on a Moody's or a standard and poor to to rate rate bonds AAA when maybe they weren't going to be AAA the pressure was simply economic and the sense that you were paid multiples more for rating that kind of stuff so the more of the stuff that you that you would do the more money you make and if you didn't do it the fact if you didn't do it the guy who it so what do you said you know what I don't like this one I'm not going to rate it

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SMP would do it the whole point of Moody's and S&P was to be independent referees to judge the value of the stuff that the Wall Street Banks created they were supposed to assess the loans that are inside the bonds and then give those bonds a grade before the financial crisis Iseman went to S&P to ask one of its Executives what record she got from the banks well we said to her was when in the process of creating the securitizations don't

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you get the load tapes you so that when you're doing the ratings you have a better idea of what's in there and she said we don't have access to that and I said what do you mean you don't have access to that she says well the investment banks will give it to us and I laugh I said what do you mean they won't give it to you you're the ratings agencies I had to give you what you want and she basically mumbled that if they had asked for it they wouldn't get it and then they would just walk

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across the street go to Moody's it's so this surprised you I was shocked because it would have basically meant the ratings agencies didn't have any better data than I did and that stunned me back in 2008 when Wall Street was collapsing and Steve Eisman was making a fortune the problem was clear the ratings agencies have been bought and paid for by the game's most powerful players

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the refs lack of Independence had fueled a world historic financial crisis if someone had told you in I don't know early 2009 that the ratings agencies would be in the end unscathed by all this that they would that there'd be no reform of the structure of the ratings agencies and we'd be sitting here 10 years later and they could be still being paid by the Banks to rate the bonds would you be surprised I'd be stunned stunned because what's interesting is that there have been

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of changes that have taken place with respect to the banks I mean truly massive so then you have this other piece the referees of the Securities that were the pride the heart of the problem correct and and the referees haven't been reformed and why do you imagine that is you know it's one of life's great Mysteries one of life's great Mysteries

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some things were reformed after the crisis to fix Wall Street but not the refs why would this be

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why would a system prefer a bad ref to a good one

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why would it want an authenticator that doesn't authenticate

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Iseman can't explain it but George akerlof can okay let's take a somebody who has a very hard time getting a mortgage this person is very risky but that person's willing to pay a higher rate of interest on that mortgage so I buy that bad mortgage I don't mind the fact that the ratings agency it allows me to buy the red that bad mortgage because then when I

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my Regulators or my board of directors or my stockholders or whatever they can't blame me for the fact that I bought that bad more to say oh he bought this thing and then he's making things big profits they can't blame me that's the role for the phony ref he absolves everyone at the table of responsibility the guy with bad credit gets a loan the bank that buys the loan gets a high interest rate the ratings agency blesses the deal everyone seems to

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here's the funny thing about referees just now the only place in the economy where they seemed secure is where they've been compromised because once they've been compromised their assured of at least one truly enthusiastic source of support the people who control them think of it as a rule of thumb find a happy referee and you found a problem

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so we have a new rule where the referees are happy and prosperous they're probably helping to make life less fair but let's flip it around let's ask a question what's a truly egregious example of unfairness in American life and are there any referees present at that scene and for years and years and years Fortune Magazine would have a cover story every year saying who gets paid how much very neutral

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then all of a sudden around 1990 they had covers re saying it's out of control that's now meno who helped found something called ISS ISS stands for institutional shareholder Services it was supposed to be a neutral referee to prevent the people who ran America's biggest corporations from abusing their power or paying themselves too much so when you've got basically the capitalist favorite magazine telling you it's out of control it's out of control and that was a fraction of

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what it is today back in 1980 the typical corporate CEO was paid roughly 15 times what is average employee made now he's paid roughly 400 times with the average worker gets paid CEOs looked around and they saw investment bankers making tons of money and they would say these guys work for me I'm a captain of industry I am moving mountains I should be making as much as they are and so they started making

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tons and tons of money and it just kept escalating and escalating and escalating and these pay plans were incredibly complicated so ISS was put in a position of kind of refereeing CEO pay except it didn't have any real Authority is there anybody in the CEO pay World whose job it is to declare pay packages fair for the company well in theory yeah I'm Jan cores I am a senior managing director and region president for pearl

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Meyer which is a compensation consulting firm we get hired by companies to advise them on their executive pay programs their Board of director pay and all of the corporate governance things that go along with that Jen korres is an example of a referee that simply didn't exist before CEO pay went nuts the CEO pay consultant there's a part of the whole pay question that I just don't get and the part of it is the idea that you need that extra night your 10

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dollar man yeah those extra nine million dollars of carrot yeah for making good decisions and being smart and trying hard are necessary to get a guy who's already ambitious and a type a person sure to try hard make good decisions be smart nobody's offering me 10 million dollars to make a good decision about you know what book I write next sure nobody is offering most of the people in the company they're just assuming that that everybody's going to try their hardest sand sure make good decisions

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I did this particular class of human being needs this giant reward in order to be smart is actually quite damning about that class of human being so she was Brave to talk to me I don't want to misrepresent our views but I thought that maybe she might talk about Pearl Meyer as an authenticator of CEO pay packages I mean in theory the place exists to judge whether the CEOs pay is a good deal for the company instead she wound up defending how much CEOs

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paid way baseball players need that much money just because they happen to be good don't they love baseball wouldn't they play baseball player or less money they do they they do and they they they do play baseball for less money so and they do try hard for less money so the answer is they don't need that much money that much yeah that's true but that you don't get better performance out of them because of the money no one argues the baseball players have better the more you pay them in fact the argument you get in professional sports as if you pay them a lot of money

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and they'll get lazy because they don't need the money they owe me the money anyway so yeah so exactly so in fact the best time to have a baseball player is when you're not paying anything and you have it the first six years of his career and he's got a minimum salary and he's trying to prove something trying to prove something so why isn't the same true of the CEO where let's keep him on a starvation diet until he proves something

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I was clearly making her a little uneasy she didn't have a lot of power here she was brought in by companies mainly to help keep their CEOs pay packages off the front page of the Wall Street Journal and I guess the argument is is that by the time they get to be the CEO there like the Aaron Rodgers right they have they've already been through their trial they've already done their proving and having gotten to that CEO level this is now where they get their reward and they're so valuable that you need to pay them this in order to in order

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to get them to do the job um yeah you know yeah yes and no there's not a lot of people that can hit a hundred mile an hour fast balls if you can do it you can make a lot of money there's not a lot of people that can run 10 billion dollar companies maybe that's true I don't really know there seem to be a lot of people running big companies just fine and a lot of others who don't seem all that different from them who would be perfectly happy to do it too

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I mean how fragile must accompany be to so desperately need this one incredibly special person to run it but you know what's even harder to find than the incredibly special person who can run a large company a person who's willing to referee them straight up if you have any questions or comments regarding any of the four management proposals please go to the standing microphone

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Mike Mike Nao Mike Mayo has spent the last 30 years analyzing American Banks he tells shareholders whether they should buy or sell their shares he sees it as his job to say about Banks yeah that one really is a lemon back before the financial crisis Mayo saw that a lot of banks were making bad loans and he call them out publicly the long list what is the task of the board of doing his homework to ensure that Citigroup has the best most effective chairman

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that is a very good question that's mayo and a mic in the Great Hall of the Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago is nothing really great about the Great Hall of the Congress Plaza Hotel it's not even a halt the hotel website says that it's perfect for a reception of 1200 but really it's more like a place to throw a party to which you hope no one will come well I'm a bit agnostic I mean I've seen I've seen plenty of companies where the CEO and the chairman on this day

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in June 2018 the Great Hall holds only a few dozen people mainly retirees and know Wall Street analysts except Mike Mayo Mayo buys a single share of stock in each Wall Street bank so that he has the right to come to meetings like this and Grill the board of directors who sit on the stage among the largest US Banks City had worst in class returns among his peers in 2017 yet City increase the

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you pay by 48 percent and the grades imply that top management got almost Straight A's so why the disconnect here well I think you know companies at different times have to have different different jobs to do would you say the Citigroup CEOs over your during your tenure of watching them have been better at running the bank or at getting themselves paid wow Citigroup what an example I mean this is an extreme example of CEO pay in the

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banking industry or Corporate America generally Citigroup CEOs over the last two decades have gotten paid about more than any other bank CEOs at the same time they've had the absolute worst stock price performance over that period when was the first time you raised you you voiced any kind of complaint with the what a CEO is paid 1994 I raised a concern about the CEO of

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key Corp saying that the CEO is getting paid too much money in conjunction with a merger that they were doing and my concern was they did not disclose this information in a way that people could readily see it so when you said that how did they take it they cut off all business with the firm that I was working with so when's the next time you did such a thing well then the late 1990s I wrote about compensation and the banking industry and some

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Executives were paid too much and some CEOs were paid too much and I thought that was all fine until I got fired the Wall Street analyst who does his job and speaks up about CEO pay is the analyst who keeps losing his job it doesn't make any sense Until you realize that the point of this ref is not to be independent you're on your 7th brokerage firm my seventh brokerage firm not out of choice do young people ever come to you and say Mike how do I be like you

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and keep my job every now and then but not too often I think if I were to go about my career the way I did starting 30 years ago then I think I'd have a hard time keeping a job let's recap Step 1 a market in need of a ref just to survive because the seller might know something the buyer does not the market for a used car or a subprime mortgage and old Master painting or for that matter a CEO Step 2

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the seller in one way or another captures the ref step 3 the compromise ref becomes a stable ref a happy ref he's an integral part of the market and has enough powerful people on his side that he makes a good living He absolves both buyer and seller of blame

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now we arrive at step 4 when you hear the first creaks and groans of a system about to crash under the weight of its own stupidity

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so who is Bernardino Louis knee Bernardino Louis knee had worked primarily in North Italy and it returned to Milan in 1508 to set up Studio practice and paint in the number of churches there after mainly doing frescoes Matthew landrus is a Leonardo scholar at Oxford University that period when he returns to Milan he has the opportunity to meet Leonardo DaVinci and and Leonardo's Studio

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through Associates that Leonardo had there

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a funny thing happened after the rest pronounce the salvator Mundi Leonardo went up on the wall of the National Gallery in London in 2011 and some other rafts people just as qualified as the ones who would proclaim the painting a Leonardo got to look at it for the first time landrus was among the experts who first saw the salvator Mundi while it was surrounded by gawking tourists when it was a fait accompli

► 00:39:25

but when he looked at it his first thought wasn't of Leonardo it was a Bernardino loony Landry suspected Bernardino Louis knee pain in most of the salvator Mundi perhaps supervised by Leonardo though why Leonardo would have done this without leaving any record of it is unclear but just because Matthew landrus thought it doesn't mean he's happy to say it into a microphone it you think there's a chance it's entirely by Louis knee and Leonardo had nothing to do with it oh no

► 00:39:55

I would not want to say that of course there's a chance there's a chance could be by all sorts of other people there's no hard evidence that it was even painted in the 16th century

► 00:40:07

but you can see while Andres would no longer want to say it there is a lot of pressure on our historians to be careful about commenting on paintings because people will then skew that information or change that information into discussions of value art markets not sort of thing there's a lot of pressure on Art historians there is but it's All in One Direction

► 00:40:32

it's not a pressure to say no it's not a Leonardo it's a pressure to say yes yes it is Leonardo

► 00:40:42

and once someone said it the pressure only mounts to the point where it might affect even the most successful graduate of the Isidore Newman School in New Orleans Louisiana

► 00:40:54

when I got invited by the auction house to be on the panels and be part of the special shows I kept saying you know on balance here's what I think but I wasn't going to be a flamethrower at that point I wasn't going to say oh I think this whole thing could be a total fraud you get wrapped up in the excitement of it now fortunately what I wrote In the book I wrote well before this excitement so I stand by every one of those words

► 00:41:24

suspect on a panel I got a little bit more enthusiastic simply because you know you want to be part of the party at 370 million dollars a gentleman 400 million the last one you will ever be able to buy though last one in private hands 400 million it's a pit and you knew a Saudi Prince would end up buying it and the piece is so

► 00:41:57

the Saudi Prince made a gift of his new Leonardo to the new Museum in Abu Dhabi that has arranged to call itself the Louvre the Louvre Abu Dhabi

► 00:42:10

please press four all of this was all over the news and then the world moved on except for one piece of it the salvator Mundi

► 00:42:21

oh yes I wanted to find out if you know when the Salvatore Monday the Leonardo painting will be on display

► 00:42:35

so you don't know why the unveiling was postponed or where it is now no one seems to know I don't know I mean they're these rumors that the picture is gone missing and they're these newspaper reports that the original Louvre in Paris has some small problems with the idea of it hanging on the wall of its satellite museum at least described as a Leonardo

► 00:42:58

I'm sorry man we do not have any information it was postponed previously but now we do not have any update yet Anything Could Happen okay do you know when you might have an update I think whatever happens I'm going to doubt it I'm Michael Lewis thanks for listening to against the rules against the rules is brought to you by Pushkin Industries the show is produced by Audrey dilling and Catherine Jared oh

► 00:43:28

with research assistance from Zoe Oliver gray and Beth Johnson our editor is Julia Barton Mia Lobel is our executive producer our theme was composed by Nick Patel with additional scoring by Seth Samuel mastering by Jason gambrel I show was recorded by Topher Ruth at Northgate studios in Berkeley special thanks to our Founders Jacob Weisberg and Malcolm Gladwell

► 00:44:04

well thank you very much