Art lovers and collectors around the world are sure to be impressed by the latest record-breaking auction. Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” officially sold for $450 million at Christie’s in New York City yesterday, completely shattering all past sales numbers.
Why is this work such a huge part of history? According to Christie’s, this 16th century painting of Christ once belonged to England’s King Charles I (1600-1649). It was later passed down to his son, Charles II. The work is considered to be a “lost” art, as the painting disappeared from record between the years of 1763 and 1900. After rediscovery, it was then acquired by Sir Charles Robinson, who noted that the work had been “extensively repainted.”
Because of these paint alterations, the work had long been mistaken for a copy. It once sold for a mere £45 – or $60. (That’s a far cry from its current $450 million price tag!) The work was formally restored in 2007, and deemed the last privately-owned painting attributed to da Vinci in existence. Which is how we ended up here.
“‘Salvator Mundi’ is a painting of the most iconic figure in the world by the most important artist of all time,” Loic Gouzer, the Chairman of Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christie’s in New York, shared. “The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the market is an honor that comes around once in a lifetime. Despite being created approximately 500 years ago, the work of Leonardo is just as influential to the art that is being created today as it was in the 15th and 16th centuries. We felt that offering this painting within the context of our Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale is a testament to the enduring relevance of this picture.”
Before this sale, the past record-holder was a Pablo Picasso painting titled “Women of Algiers (Version O).” This work sold for $127.4 million back in 2015. So not only did the Leonardo da Vinci piece break the sales price record, it completely smashed it.
The new owner of this work remains a mystery, but it is definitely an exciting moment for the art world!