Recently discovered da Vinci painting sells for record $450M at auction
A rare painting recently discovered to be an original Leonardo da Vinci was sold for a record-pulverizing $450 million in New York Wednesday night.
“Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World),” which dates to around 1500, became the most expensive work of art ever auctioned after a furious bidding war at Christie’s in Rockefeller Center.
The piece is one of just 16 known surviving paintings by the Renaissance master, and was long thought to be by another artist. It was bought for a mere $90 about 60 years ago, and experts didn’t agree that it was an original Leonardo until 2011.
The artwork has been described as a hidden masterpiece plucked from obscurity.
“We came pretty close to losing it,” Alan Wintermute, a Christie’s vice president and specialist in Old Masters paintings, told The Post. “It’s so rare that anything this important reappears in the way it has, that you can’t help but be excited.”
The painting depicts Jesus Christ dressed in robes with one hand raised in a blessing and the other holding an orb that represents the Earth.
The winning bidder had not been identified as of late Wednesday night.
The highest previous price ever paid for a work of art was $179.4 million, for Picasso’s “Women of Algiers (Version O)” in May 2015, also at Christie’s in Manhattan.
Other big-ticket items sold at auction in the last few years include an Amedeo Modigliani nude, which sold for $170, also in 2015, an Andy Warhol car-crash work for $105.4 million in 2013, and a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting for $110.5 million in May.
In a private sale, the highest known price ever paid for any artwork is about $300 million, for Willem de Kooning’s “Interchange.” It was sold in September 2015 by the David Geffen Foundation to hedge-fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin.
“Salvator Mundi” was sold for a paltry $90 in 1958 by descendants of a British collector who bought the painting in 1900, having no idea it was a Leonardo.
A consortium of art dealers paid less than $10,000 for the painting in 2005. It was then restored and scholars began to discuss whether it was an authentic Leonardo.
It was last sold in 2013, when Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev bought it for $127.5 million.
Some still doubt the work’s authenticity, claiming it is too boring to be a Leonardo masterpiece.
“Even making allowances for its extremely poor state of preservation, it is a curiously unimpressive composition and it is hard to believe that Leonardo himself was responsible for anything so dull,” said Charles Hope, a professor emeritus at the Warburg Institute at the University of London.
Source: New York Post