Painting of Jesus Christ Sells for $450.3m

Salvator Mundi

Leonardo da Vinci’s long lost portrait of Christ has sold for a record-smashing $450.3 million at Christie’s in New York.
The price more than double the old mark for any work of art at auction.
The painting once sold for just $60 at auction because experts thought it was by one of his students
The portrait named ‘Salvator Mundi’ – Italian for ‘Savior of the World’ – was purchased by an unidentified buyer bidding via telephone after a protracted bidding war that stretched to nearly 20 minutes at the New York auction house.
It was more than twice the old auction record set by Pablo Picasso’s painting ‘Women of Algiers (Version O)’ (‘Les Femmes D’Alger) which sold for $179.4 million in May 2015, also at Christie’s in New York.
The highest known sale price for any artwork had been $300 million for Willem de Kooning’s painting ‘Interchange,’ which was sold privately in September 2015 by the David Geffen Foundation to hedge fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin.
The oil on wood panel painting, Salvator Mundi, depicts Christ with his right hand raised in blessing and his left hand holding a globe.
Commissioned by Louis XII of France in 1506, it later ended up in possession of Charles I of England and following his execution it went to Charles II and it remained in London for 400 years.
It eventually ended up in the collection of Sir Francis Cook and in 1958 it was sold by Sotheby’s for just $60 after it was wrongly attributed to a student of Da Vinci called Giovanni Boltraffio.
Robert Simon Fine Art in New York, along with a consortium of art dealers, are thought to have acquired the painting at a clearance sale in 2004 for $10,000.
Simon and his partners flew in an international panel of art experts who assessed the work, which had been heavily overpainted, and gone dark and gloomy during years of neglect.
After it was cleaned up, the experts agreed it had not been done by the pupil, but the master himself, da Vinci, and went on display to the public at the National Gallery in London in 2011.
Paris-based dealer, Yves Bouvier purchased the work at a Sotheby’s private sale for $77 million in 2013.
During Wednesday’s auction, a backer of the ‘Salvator Mundi’ auction had guaranteed a bid of at least $100 million, the opening bid of the auction, which ran for 19 minutes. The price hit $300 million about halfway through the bidding.
People in the auction house gallery applauded and cheered when the bidding reached $300 million and when the hammer came down on the final bid, $400 million. The record sale price of $450 million includes the buyer’s premium, a fee paid by the winner to the auction house.
The 26-inch-tall Leonardo painting dates from around 1500 and shows Christ dressed in Renaissance-style robes, his right hand raised in blessing as his left hand holds a crystal sphere.
Its path from Leonardo’s workshop to the auction block at Christie’s was not smooth. Once owned by King Charles I of England, it disappeared from view until 1900, when it resurfaced and was acquired by a British collector. At that time it was attributed to a Leonardo disciple, rather than to the master himself.
The painting was sold again in 1958 and then was acquired in 2005, badly damaged and partly painted-over, by a consortium of art dealers who paid less than $10,000 (8,445 euros). The art dealers restored the painting and documented its authenticity as a work by Leonardo.
The painting was sold Wednesday by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who bought it in 2013 for $127.5 million (108 million euros) in a private sale that became the subject of a continuing lawsuit.