Leonardo da Vinci artwork auctioned for $450.3 mn

The Russian Billionaire Behind Christie's Controversial $450M Leonardo

Leonardo da Vinci's 500-year old mystical masterpiece "Salvator Mundi" claimed a place in auction history on November 15, selling for $450,312,500 and setting a new auction record for any work of art ever sold at auction, after 19 minutes of bidding.

Leonardo da Vinci's canvas measuring 64.5x44.7 cm depicts Jesus Christ in heavenly blue clothing, giving his blessing with his right hand and holding a transparent ball with his left hand. The buyer of the painting remains undisclosed.

The painting became the most expensive work of art at auction history. The other much-celebrated work is the enigmatic "Mona Lisa", finished around 1513 or 1514 and is on permanent display at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

It has been guaranteed by a backer to sell for at least $100 million (85 million euros). Halfway through the bidding, the price has already reached $300 million. It represented the first time the painting had been shown in Asia or America. And it has royal provenance: Commissioned by King Louis XII of France, owned by Charles I and Charles II of England, the painting passed into obscurity for three centuries until it was "rediscovered" in 2005. It remained unseen from 1763 until 1900. At that time it was attributed to a da Vinci disciple, rather than to the master himself. "Salvator Mundi" was featured in Christie's evening sale of postwar and contemporary art. It was badly damaged and partly painted over.

Sold at Sotheby's to an American collector in 1958 for only 45 pounds (then about $126), it again sold in 2005 as an overpainted copy of the masterwork.

"Salvator Mundi" is rare; on that there is no debate.

Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev bought the restored painting in 2013 for $127.5 million. There is a continuing lawsuit on that particular sale. Since the sale of "Salvator Mundi" was announced on October 10 at Christie's, more than 29,700 people have flocked to Christie's exhibitions of the "Male Mona Lisa" in Hong Kong, London, San Francisco and NY - the first time the painting had ever been shown to the public in Asia or the Americas.

No museum in NY owns a work of art done by Leonardo da Vinci. Some of those who were able to see the painting said that it was a spectacular and very spiritual piece.

Art experts now estimate that the painting was made around 1500.

This is the last painting of Leonardo da Vinci that can be owned privately.

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