Leonardo da Vinci Masterpiece crushes projections, sells for $450.3 million

Leonardo da Vinci

“Salvator Mundi,” a painting by Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, has shattered all records to sell for $450.3 million. The auction was held Wednesday at Christie’s auction house in New York.

The painting, which name translates from Italian to “Savior of the World,” was purchased by an anonymous buyer. It is believed to be the last remaining privately-owned da Vinci work.

Prior to last night’s record sale, Picasso held the title of highest price ever paid for a painting at auction with his “Woman of Algiers (Version O).” His work sold for $179.4 million in May 2015.

The all-time highest known sales price of a painting also occurred in May 2015 when the David Geffen Foundation sold Willem de Kooning’s “Interchange” for a reported $300 million to Kenneth C. Griffin.

The 500-year-old “Salvator Mundi” depicts Jesus Christ holding a crystal sphere and features Leonardo da Vinci’s signature technique build up of at least five thin coats of paint to achieve the flesh tones, which led to the painting’s nick name of the “male Mona Lisa.”

Fewer than 20 paintings by Leonardo are known to exist.

The auction ran for a brief 19 minutes, but stunned the world when about half-way through, the price more than tripled the opening $100 million sales price.

The total sales price of $450,312,500.00 includes a winning bid of $400 million plus the fees (buyer’s premium) paid to the auction house.

Applause and cheering rang out at the hammer came down on the final bid.

Originally completed around 1500 AD, the 26-inch-tall painting was once owned by King Charles I of England. The work had disappeared from known existence until around 1900 when it resurfaced and was thought to have been a replica piece.

It was sold as the work of a Leonardo disciple in 1958, then again in 2005.

Once layers of over-paint were carefully removed, Leonardo’s masterpiece was revealed and authenticated.

 

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