Leonardo Da Vinci’s Christ Hammers for $450-M
A painting of Christ by the Renaissance Master Leonardo da Vinci sold for a record $450-M at auction Wednesday evening in NYC, surpassing prior records for artworks sold at auction or privately.
The painting, called “Salvator Mundi,” Italian for “Savior of the World,” is 1 of fewer than 20 paintings by Leonardo known to exist and the only 1 in private hands.
Christie’s auction house sold it and did not identify the buyer.
The highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction had been $179.4-M, for Picasso’s “Women of Algiers (Version O)” in May 2015, also at Christie’s in New York.
The highest known sale price for any artwork had been $300-M, for Willem de Kooning’s “Interchange,” sold privately in September 2015 by the David Geffen Foundation to hedge fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin.
The 26-in-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.
The painting was sold again in Y 1958 and then acquired in Y 2005, badly damaged and partly painted-over, by a consortium of art dealers who paid less than $10,000. 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 Y 2013 for $127.5-M in a private sale that became the subject of a continuing lawsuit.
Christie’s says most scholars agree that the painting is by Leonardo, though some critics have questioned the attribution and some say the extensive restoration muddies the work’s authorship.
Christie’s capitalized on the public’s interest in Leonardo, considered one of the greatest artists of all time, with a media campaign that labeled the painting “The Last Da Vinci.”
The work was exhibited in Hong Kong, San Francisco, London and New York prior to the sale.