Leonardo da Vinci, Italian Renaissance master, continues to stir the art world centuries after his death. One of his rare paintings, ”Salvator Mundi,” that translates to Savior of the World, was successfully auctioned off by Christie’s at its New York auction house for a staggering $450.3 million.
Salvator Mundi is one of about 20 extant paintings that Leonardo da Vinci did in his lifetime. It is also considered as the only one that belongs to a private collection. The buyer of the painting remains undisclosed.
Leonardo da Vinci may have only created a few works, but some of them are still very much revered, such as “The Last Supper,” completed in 1498 and located at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. The other much-celebrated work is the enigmatic “Mona Lisa,” finished around 1513 or 1514 and is on permanent display at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Previous Leonardo da Vinci Records
In May 2015, “Women of Algiers (Version O)” by Pablo Picasso, held the record as the highest price paid for an auctioned work of art. Christie’s in New York was also the auction house that sold it for $179.4 million.
When it comes to sale prices, the highest ever paid was $300 million for “Interchange,” a painting by Willem de Kooning, a Rotterdam-born Dutch-American abstract expressionist. It was sold privately in September 2015 to hedge fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin by the David Geffen Foundation.
The painting’s auction backer guaranteed a minimum bid of $100 million. It was the auction’s opening bid, which only lasted for 19 minutes. Halfway through the bidding, the price has already reached $300 million. It closed at $400 million, which was the final bid. The total price of $450,312,500 includes the premium fee the winner paid to Christie’s.
The painting is attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, who was known to have painted the subject Jesus Christ between 1506 and 1513 for Louis XII of France. The 25.8 in × 17.9 in (45.4 cm × 65.6 cm) painting done on a walnut panel shows Christ wearing a Renaissance-style robe. His right hand is raised in benediction, with fingers crossed. His left hand holds a crystal orb.
The painting, thought to be lost and was ”rediscovered” is believed to originally belong to the collection of Charles I of England. It remained unseen from 1763 until 1900. At that time the painting was owned by British collector Sir Charles Robinson, and the work was still attributed to Bernardino Luini, a disciple of Da Vinci.
In 1958 it was sold by Sotheby’s for £45 (around $125 at the time) and in 2005 it found its way to an auction house in the United States. When acquired in 2005 it was in a badly damaged condition. The painting at the time was painted over partially by a group of art dealers, who were believed to have paid about $10,000 for it. The group restored the Salvator Mundi. They documented its authenticity, attributing it to the Italian master.
The last private owner of Salvator Mundi before its auction was Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian billionaire, who sold it Wednesday. He bought it privately for $127.5 million in 2013. There is a continuing lawsuit on that particular sale.
First Public Showing
Before Wednesday’s action, Christie’s mounted a media campaign, and exhibited the celebrated work in New York, London, San Francisco and Hong Kong.
No museum in New York owns a work of art done by Leonardo da Vinci. Salvator Mundi was put on display at the Rockefeller Center and art lovers waited in line to view it. Some of those who were able to see the painting said that it was a spectacular and very spiritual piece.
The only painting of Leonardo da Vinci that is in an American gallery is “Ginevra de’ Benci” that belongs to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
This is the last painting of Leonardo da Vinci that can be owned privately. Speculations are high that someone from Asia or Abu Dhabi is its new owner. Many think that it could be from Abu Dhabi where the new Louvre has just opened.