Leonardo da Vinci Painting Sells for $450.3 Million, Shattering Auction Records

A 500-year-old work of art — believed to be by Leonardo da Vinci and depicting Jesus Christ — sold in New York for $450.3 million smashing a new art auction record

The descendant of a previous owner of Da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" says the painting's record-breaking price tag proves his "great-great-grandfather had a very good eye" for fine art. The sale far surpassed previous world records, including Pablo Picasso's "Women of Algiers" that fetched $179.4 million at Christie's in NY in May 2015. The work was exhibited in Hong Kong, San Francisco, London and NY before the sale.

The painting was consigned to a sale at Sotheby's auction house in 1958 where it fetched just 45 British pounds. "It has been more than a century since the last such painting turned up and this opportunity will not come again in our lifetime".

Simon Schama, the prominent English art historian, is among the skeptics, tweeting Wednesday, "Whatever % of Salvator Mundi is Leonardo, it's just not that much of a painting". At that time it was attributed to a Leonardo disciple, rather than to the master himself. It is one of fewer than 20 da Vinci paintings generally accepted as being from the Renaissance master's hand, according to Christie's. Standing in front of his paintings, it becomes impossible for one's mind to fully unravel or comprehend the mystery radiating from them - both the "Mona Lisa" and "Salvator Mundi" are flawless examples of this. 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.

Gouzer continued, "Salvator Mundi" was painted in the same timeframe as the Mona Lisa, and they bear a patent compositional likeness".

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It has been guaranteed by a backer to sell for at least $100 million (85 million euros). It is the 12th painting to break the $100 million mark at auction, and a new high for any old master at auction, surpassing Rubens's "Massacre of the Innocents", which sold for $76.7 million in 2002 (or more than $105 million, adjusted for inflation).

The 26-inch-tall painting has an intriguing history.

The painting was first recorded in the Royal collection of King Charles I (1600-1649), and thought to have hung in the private chambers of Henrietta Maria - the wife of King Charles I - in her palace in Greenwich, and was later in the collection of Charles II. It was discovered in 2005 and underwent heavy restoration, according to the New York Times. Art collectors consider Salvator Mundi as the "male Mona Lisa" making it a legendary piece. "Long known to have existed, and long sought after, it seemed just a tantalizingly unobtainable dream until now", Wintermute said.

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