da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” to Action at Christie’s NY in November
The last privately owned Leonardo da Vinci painting, 1 of fewer than 20 by the Renaissance artist known to still exist is hitting the auction block, Christie’s announced Tuesday.
“Salvator Mundi,” an ethereal portrait of Jesus Christ which dates to about 1500, is expected to sell for about $100-M at Christie’s in November, making it among the most highly-valued works ever to be sold at auction.
“This is truly the Holy Grail of art rediscoveries,” said Alan Wintermute, Christie’s senior specialist for Old Master paintings, explaining that the portrait sometimes called the male Mona Lisa had long been thought to have been lost or destroyed.
The portrait depicts Christ in vivid blue and crimson robes holding a crystal orb.
First recorded in the private collection of King Charles I, the work was auctioned in Y 1763 before vanishing until Y 1900, by which time Christ’s face and hair had been painted over, which Mr. Wintermute said was “quite common” practice.
Sold at Sotheby’s (NYSE:BID) to an American collector in Y 1958 for GBP 45, it again sold in Y 2005 as an over painted copy of the masterwork, he said.
The new owner started the restoration process, and after some 6 years of research it was authenticated as da Vinci’s more-than 500-year-old masterpiece, which culminated in a high-profile exhibition at London’s National Gallery in Y 2011.
The auction house did not identify the seller, a European private collector who acquired the work after its rediscovery in Y 2005 and lengthy restoration. The painting stands as the 1st discovery of a da Vinci painting since Y 1909.