(Image Courtesy of Getty Images)
A Leonardo da Vinci painting has sold for a record-breaking $450 million this week, at Christie’s auction house in New York. The figure more than doubles the present record for an artwork sold at auction: a $179.4 million bid for a Picasso in 2015.
The painting – a depiction of Jesus called Salvator Mundi – marketed for the relatively modest sum of $10,000 12 years back. Some experts believed it had been painted by one of Da Vinci’s followers.
There are some critics who question the work’s authorship, but nearly all scholars believe it is authentic.
The doubts failed to dampen the 19 minutes of bidding, during which the painting climbed from a sealed pre-sale bid of $100 million.
Salvator Mundi is the only Da Vinci painting in private hands and is one of fewer than 20 the old master painted in oil.
King Louis XII of France commissioned the 44cm x 66cm painting in 1605, during the same period as the Mona Lisa. It was later recorded in King Charles I of England’s collection. Between 1763 and 1900 it disappeared until it was purchased at auction by a British art collector. The face and hair of the subject were painted over, which makes it seem like a copy. It was assumed to be by a follower of Da Vinci called Bernandino Luini.
The London art collector’s family sold it in 1958 for a paltry 45 Pounds.
In 2005, a group of art dealers acquired it for $10,000. They spent six years restoring and investigating the painting before declaring it was Leonardo himself. It was the first such discovery of a Da Vinci since 1909 and became known as the missing Leonardo.