A 500-year-old painting of Christ believed to have been painted by Leonardo da Vinci has been sold in New York for a record $450m. Christie’s Auction House hosted the event and has noted in the aftermath that the price tag for the painting has obliterated the previous world record for the most expensive work of art at auction. And this record was set in just 20 minutes! The last time the painting was sold was in 2014 and it was sold for $127.5 million. The new owner of the painting is still unknown.
The painting is commonly known as Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World). Leonardo da Vinci died in 1519 and there are fewer than 20 of his paintings in existence. Salvator Mundi, believed to have been painted sometime after 1505, is the only work thought to be in private hands. between the mid-1600s and 2005, this piece of Leonardo’s work was lost. At some point, Charles I of England, a great art collector, owned the piece.
There has been much debate over the past few years if the painting was painted by Leonardo or by one of his followers. It had also been heavily damaged by crude attempts at conservation. In 2007, conservator Dianne Dwyer Modestini, of New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, launched a project to restore the painting. The background of the painting has almost entirely been lost but the rendering of Christ’s hands, hair and clothing are well-preserved.
The painting has had major plastic surgery, many art critics have pointed out that this does not make the painting authentic. In 2011, however, experts from all over the world gathered to examine the painting and they in the end determined that the painting was indeed painted by Leonardo.
The previous record-holder for the priciest “old master” painting was “Massacre of the Innocents” by Peter Paul Rubens, which sold for $76.7 million in 2002, according to Christie’s. The previous record-holder for the most expensive da Vinci was his “Horse and Rider,” which sold for $11,481,865 at Christie’s in 2001.
Many have dubbed the painting as the greatest art discovery of the 20th century and it’s easy to see why!
Source: BBC.com and Livescience.com