Janina Lim – Fourth Estate Contributor
New York, NY, United States NY – Leonardo da Vinci’s long-lost and recently discovered Christ painting has fetched a record $450.31 million at Christie’s, more than two-folds the amount of the previously highest bid out painting.
The record-smashing price easily made the renowned painter’s work entitled ‘Salvator Mundi’ or the ‘Saviour of the World’ “the most expensive painting ever sold at auction,” Christie’s said in a statement.
The previous record belonged Picasso’s “Les Femmes d’Alger” which sold for $179.36 million painting. The highest price previously paid at auction for a da Vinci was in 2001 for his “Horse and Rider,” which went for $11.48 million.
The Salvator Mundi painting, only recently rediscovered, was the last da Vinci left in private hands and was pegged at four times Christie’s’ pre-sale estimate of about $100 million.
The portrait was purchased by an unidentified buyer bidding via telephone.
Its appearance in Christies’ was the first time the painting had ever been shown to the public.
“It was a moment when all the stars were aligned, and I think Leonardo would be very pleased,” Jussi Pylkkänen, global president of Christie’s, said after the sale.
“It’s a painting beyond anything I’ve ever handled,” said Pylkkänen, adding, “I should hang up my gavel.”
The portrait, which has gone through a lengthy restoration process, is one of the fewer than 20 da Vinci paintings still in existence.
Dating back to about 1500, the painting was first recorded in the private collection of King Charles I, then auctioned in 1763 before getting lost.
As it resurfaced in 1900, the work had been painted over – once a “quite common” practice, according to Alan Wintermute, Christie’s senior specialist for Old Master paintings.
The painting wasa auctioned at Sotheby’s to an American collector in 1958 for only 45 pounds but was re-sold in 2005 as an overpainted copy of the masterwork.
The work went through about six years of research launched by its new owner and was then authenticated as da Vinci’s more than 500-year-old masterpiece.
Christie’s declined to provide details on the seller other than noting that it was a European private collector but media named him as Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who paid $127.5 million in 2013 in a private sale.
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