Leonardo da Vinci's Christ painting sells for record $450 million
17 November, 2017, 00:39 | Author: Julio Duncan
Leonardo da Vinci's portrait of Christ, Salvator Mundi, sold for a record US$450.3 million (S$610.8 million) at Christie's, more than double the price for any work of art sold at an auction.
The highest price paid for a work of art at auction had been $179 million, for Pablo Picasso's painting "Women of Algiers (Version O)" in May 2015, also at Christie's in NY.
When it re-emerged in 2005, this exquisite work, depicting Jesus Christ as the savior of the world, became the first discovery of a painting by Leonardo da Vinci since 1909.
After being restored and authenticated, it was bought in 2015 by Dmitry Rybolovlev for $127.5 million, where he was lucky to turn a profit when sold for $450.3 million, beating the record held by the 2015 sale of Picasso's "Les Femmes d'Alger" for $179.4 million.
Leonardo's painting is just one of 20 that still exist, and it now belongs to a private owner. The final bid was $400 million, but the sale price includes a premium paid to Christie's.
Many celebrities were present at its auction, including Leonardo DiCaprio, who is slated to play the Renaissance painter in an upcoming film by Paramount, singer Jennifer Lopez and singer-songwriter Patti Smith.
Simon Schama, the prominent English art historian, is among the skeptics, tweeting Wednesday, "Whatever % of Salvator Mundi is Leonardo, it's just not that much of a painting". "The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the market is an honor that comes around once in a lifetime".
"The composition doesn't come from Leonardo". At that time it was attributed to a Leonardo disciple, rather than to the master himself. "No one will ever be able to fully grasp the wonder of Leonardo's paintings, just as no one will ever be able to fully know the origins of the universe." .
Wednesday's price was all the more extraordinary given that the oil on panel fetched only 45 British pounds in 1958, at the time believed to have been a copy, before subsequently disappearing for years.
The work, dating from about 1500, was first recorded in the Royal collection of Kings Charles I and Charles II.
Alan Wintermute, Senior Specialist, Old Master Paintings at Christie's commented: "The Salvator Mundi is the Holy Grail of old master paintings".
Furthermore, he added it's honestly "wonderful" for an "Old Master" to be at the center of attention once again. Since it resurfaced, it has been exhibited at the National Gallery in London and at Christie's showrooms all over the world.
Why? Because that piece of artwork, called "Salvator Mundi", is credited to Leonardo da Vinci.
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