Auction goers watch in amazement as the portrait of Christ by the Renaissance master smashes previous records for artworks sold.
A recently salvaged and restored Leonardo da Vinci painting has sold for a record-breaking sum at auction.Salvator Mundi, the artist’s portrait of Christ, was sold for $450.3m (£342m) at Christie’s in New York. The amount includes £38.2m in fees.It was well over the pre-auction estimate of about £100m.It was also more than twice the previous auction record – the $179.4m (£136.2m) paid in May 2015 for Picasso’s Les Femmes D’Alger.
Jussi Pylkkanen, global president of Christie’s and the event’s auctioneer, told Reuters: “It was a moment when all the stars were aligned, and I think Leonardo would be very pleased.
“It’s a painting beyond anything I’ve ever handled – I should hang up my gavel.”
Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World) is around 26 inches tall and shows Christ dressed in Renaissance-like robes, raising his hand in a blessing and holding a crystal orb.It is thought to date from around 1500 and is one of only about 16 verified Leonardo originals in existence.It was once owned by King Charles I but its whereabouts in the following years were unclear until it was bought in 1900 by a British collector.At that time it was not thought to be the work of Leonardo, but of one of his followers.It was sold again in 1958 and then again in 2005.By then it was badly damaged and partly painted over but the new owners – a group of art dealers who paid less than £7,600 for the painting – restored it and documented it as an authentic da Vinci work.
Its owner before Wednesday’s auction was billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev the 15th richest man in his native Russia.
He bought it in 2013 for £96.8m in a private sale.
The auction in New York followed a campaign that saw the work exhibited in Hong Kong, San Francisco, London and New York.The 20-minute bidding war was punctuated by gasps and then applause as the bids reached each milestone.As for the buyer, it is up to them whether to reveal their identity and, so far, they’re keeping quiet.