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17 November 2017, 01:37 | Jermaine Blake
Da Vinci Painting Sold For Only $100 In 1958 Smashes World Record After $450 Million Auction
The previous record for the most expensive work of art at auction was set in the same Christie's saleroom, when Picasso's Les Femmes d'Alger (Version "O") achieved $179,364,992. To some extent, the auction house succeeded with the painting even before the sale, having secured a guaranteed $100 million bid from an unidentified third party.
The bidding opened at $75 million and ran for 19 minutes.
Christie's maintains that it was upfront about the much-restored, damaged condition of the oil-on-panel, which shows Christ as savior of the world, his right hand raised in blessing and his left holding a crystal orb.
Its path from Leonardo's workshop to the auction block at Christie's was not smooth.
Lost for years only to resurface at a regional auction in 2005, it is one of fewer than 20 Da Vinci paintings generally accepted as being from the Renaissance master's own hand, according to Christie's. At that time it was attributed to a Leonardo disciple, rather than to the master himself.
The price could call into question a legal suit lodged by its Russian seller, who accused a Swiss art dealer in Monaco of allegedly overcharging him when he bought the work for $127.5 million in 2013.
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The "excitement" for Leonardo's work has been "overwhelming".
The portrait of "Salvator Mundi" which depicts Jesus Christ was sold on behalf of Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, the boss of soccer club AS Monaco. It's said to be one of just several paintings from Leonardo's own hand that still exist.
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".
Earlier, 27,000 people had lined up at pre-auction viewings in Hong Kong, London, San Francisco and NY to glimpse the painting of Christ as "Savior of the World". When a controversial piece of such dubious authenticity is sold at prices no museum can afford, making it available only to the increasingly indistinguishable cliques of oligarchs and their head-of-state business pals, it contributes to a market where expertise and devotion to art are dispensed with; the final word on what's a Leonardo and what isn't goes to the highest bidder, not the most knowledgeable or most dedicated scholar. Svetla Nikolova, who is from Bulgaria but lives in NY, called the painting "spectacular".
Christie's says it belonged to Charles I, after possibly being made for the French royal family and taken to England by Queen Henrietta Maria when she married the English monarch in 1625. "It should be seen". It was discovered in 2005 and underwent heavy restoration, according to the New York Times.
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