Mystery shrouds Leonardo da Vinci painting that smashed records at auction

Danny Woods
November 17, 2017

This week the painting was again sold at auction at Christie's in NY, for £342m, making it the most expensive artwork in the world. Christie's will have the great privilege of presenting Salvator Mundi in upcoming exhibitions in Hong Kong, San Francisco, London and NY, marking the first opportunities for the public in Asia and the Americas to see this exceptional and iconic work of art.

Loic Gouzer, the chairman of Christie's postwar and contemporary art department, said the work of art attracted crowds of people while on exhibition in Hong Kong, San Francisco, London and NY in the weeks leading up to Wednesday's auction.

The highest known sale price for any artwork had been $300 million (253 million euros) for Willem de Kooning's "Interchange" in September 2015, which was sold privately.

The rare Leonardo da Vinci painting "Salvator Mundi" was bought for the large amount in NY, according to CNN International.

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.

When the sale was first announced by the auction house back in October, thousands of people visited exhibitions to see the painting including in cities like New York, San Francisco, London, as well as Hong Kong. The previous auction record for Leonardo da Vinci was set at Christie's in 2001 when Horse and Rider, a work on paper, sold for $11,481,865.

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4 - Three studies of Lucian Freud, a triptych by Francis BACON, was acquired in November 2013 for 142.4 million dollars, again at Christie's in NY.

"Leonardo was an unparalleled creative force and a master of the enigmatic". Rybolovlev's family trust sold the painting, through Christie's, to an undisclosed buyer, but if his name sounds familiar for other reasons, that might be because in 2008 he paid (through a company he controlled) $95M to buy a Palm Beach mansion from Donald Trump. The artwork disappeared once again for nearly 50 years, leaving many scholars to believe it had been destroyed, until it resurfaced in 2005 when it was purchased at an American estate sale. But some art experts say they have questions about it.

She also said that there are mixed opinions in the art history community on the painting's authenticity. After an extensive restoration, experts spent six years proving that it was painted by Leonardo himself. "We look forward to creating a similar sensation at Christie's sites worldwide over the next month, as we share what many call the "Male Mona Lisa" - with our global community of collectors, art historians and the public".

Artnet News reported that this fall's NY auctions being held in a frenzy this week could top the $1 billion mark in sales, higher than last year's fall season, though spring season sales totaled $1.6 billion.

"'Salvator Mundi' is the Holy Grail of old master paintings". Long-known to have existed, and long-sought after, it seemed just a tantalizingly unobtainable dream until now. "It has been more than a century since the last such painting turned up and this opportunity will not come again in our lifetime".

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