Leonardo da Vinci's long lost portrait of Christ "Salvator Mundi" has sold for a record-smashing $450.3 million on Wednesday at Christie's in NY - more than double the old mark for any work of art at auction. Heralded as the "Last da Vinci", Salvator Mundi is the last known painting by the master to be owned privately and is one of less than 20 paintings to still be in existence (the others are in museums).
These owners then had the painting restored and its identity verified by experts, before selling it on to Yves Bouvier, a dealer based in Paris, who sold it to the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, the owner who handed the sale over to Christie's. For now, it is not clear as to what would be the impact of the sale on court proceedings.
"Salvator Mundi" went through more unwitting owners before being discovered in Louisiana in 2005 by NY art collector Robert Simon.
Christie's says more than 27,000 people saw the painting first hand on the tour, the highest number of viewers for an individual work of art, according to the auction house.
Italian for "Savior of the World" - was purchased by an unidentified buyer bidding via telephone after a protracted bidding war that stretched to almost 20 minutes at the NY auction house.
Les Femmes d'Alger by Pablo Picasso, the Cubist who revolutionised modern art, was sold at an astronomical price of $179.4 million two years before.
Da Vinci's painting well surpassed the $100 million expected price, as the sale ended up being worth just over $450 million after including fees.
Paura in Tribunale per un falso allarme bomba
Dopo gli accertamenti, eseguiti con l'ausilio di telecamere, l'allarme è dunque rientrato e l'area è stata riaperta al traffico. Allarme bomba , rientrato dopo pochi minuti, all'esterno del tribunale di Milano .
While the masterpiece was being auctioned at Christie's, the room full of about 1,000 spectators was rippling with applause and whoops.
The painting drew huge interest as it made its way around the world leading up to the auction.
At one point, it was part of the royal collection of King Charles I of England. At that time it was attributed to a Leonardo disciple, rather than to the master himself.
Salvator Mundi at Christie's.
It was more than twice the old auction record set by Pablo Picasso's painting 'Women of Algiers (Version O)' ('Les Femmes D'Alger) which sold for $179.4 million in May 2015, also at Christie's in NY.
"The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the market is an honour that comes around once in a lifetime. The excitement from the public for this work of art has been overwhelming and hugely heartening".
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 NY before the sale.