New York City, USA : In a bidding war that spanned nearly 20 minutes, Leonardo da Vinci’s 500-year-old ‘Salvator Mundi’ painting finally sold for a record $450 million at Christie’s auction in New York late Wednesday. It was expected to go for at least $100 million, but finally went well beyond that as bids poured in.
Christie’s tweeted that it set a world auction record for any work of art sold at auction. Officials didn’t immediately identify the buyer. Audible cheers and applause could be heard inside the Christie’s auction house in New York when bidding completed.
“‘Salvator Mundi’ is a painting of the most iconic figure in the world by the most important artist of all time,” said Loic Gouzer, co-chairman of post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s. “The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the market is an honor that comes around once in a lifetime.”
Six years ago, art collector Robert Simon bought, for $10,000, and restored what he thought was a merely a copy of Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci’s long lost work, the “Salvator Mundi” (Italian for “Savior of the World”).
But it turns out, it was a bona fide da Vinci — one of only 15 the artist had ever created.
“Salvator Mundi”, the painting, is 26-inches-tall and shows Christ dressed in Renaissance-style robes, with his right hand in blessing as his left hand holds a crystal sphere.
Leonardo da Vinci painted it in the 1500s, but since then, it’s changed hands many times.
Once owned by King Charles I of England – who died on the chopping block – it disappeared in 1763 for over 100 years before resurfacing in London. In 1958, it was auctioned off for about $100, dropping off the grid once again for another 50 years before Simon picked it up in the U.S.
The painting to have held the record for the most paid ever at auction was $179.4 million for Picasso’s “Women of Algiers (Version O)” in May 2015.
The highest known sale price for any artwork was $300 million, for Willem de Kooning’s “Interchange,” which sold privately in September 2015.