Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi sold for $450 million

Posted November 17, 2017

The inclusion of Salvator Mundi in the National Gallery's landmark 2011-12 exhibition of Leonardo's surviving paintings - the most complete display of such works ever held - sealed its acceptance as a fully autograph work by Leonardo da Vinci. "Long known to have existed, and long sought after, it seemed just a tantalizingly unobtainable dream until now", Wintermute said.

The artwork has been the subject of legal disputes and amassed a price history that ranges from less than $10,000 in 2005, when it was spotted at an estate auction, to $200 million when it was first offered for sale by a consortium of three dealers in 2012.

Auctioneer Jussi Pylkkanen opened bidding at $75 million, pulling in 45 bids from clients on the phone and in the room.

It beat a record set in May 2015 by Pablo Picasso's Les Femmes D'Alger, which sold for $179.4 million, and constituted more than half the sale's total of $785.9 million, which came in well above the roughly $450 million pre-sale estimate. The record sale price of $450 million includes the buyer's premium, a fee paid by the victor to the auction house.

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There were gasps throughout the sale, as the bids climbed by tens of millions up to $225 million, by fives up to $260 million, and then by twos.

Furthermore, he added it's honestly "wonderful" for an "Old Master" to be at the center of attention once again.

Members of the public - indeed, even many cognoscenti - cared little if at all whether the painting might have been executed in part by studio assistants; whether Leonardo had actually made the work himself; or how much of the canvas had been repainted and restored.

In 1958, the painting was sold for just $60 because it was thought to be a copy. Based on Leonardo's Renaissance masterpiece, the monumental piece is from a group of works created by Warhol on the suggestion of Milan-based gallerist Alexander Iolas in 1984.

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At a packed post-sale press conference Christie's CEO Guillaume Cerutti praised the "incredible teamwork" that led to the historic result for the Leonardo. The previous record for an Old Master painting was $US76.7 million for Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens in 2002.

But it was an anonymous bidder who called in to secure the haunting painting depicting Christ, believed to be the work of Leonardo da Vinci, for a cool $450.3 million. Even for me, ' he said, 'it is very hard to pinpoint what it is that makes this painting so poignant, you can not comprehend the mystery of Leonardo.

Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" painting. It was, said Cerutti, 'a great moment for Christie's and a great moment for the art market'.

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