A rediscovered Leonardo da Vinci painting just became the most expensive work of art ever sold. The painting is a portrait of Jesus Christ called "Salvator Mundi" or "Savior of the World."
According to the Wall Street Journal, the estimate for the bid at Christie's auction house was around $100 million. However, the painting ended up selling at a record-breaking $450.3 million.
The painting was completed around 1500. It features an image of Christ in a blue robe, holding a crystal orb. With fewer than 20 of Leonardo da Vinci's paintings surviving and with this particular one being the last one "deemed by him in private hands," it is no surprise that it sold for a large sum.
The final price that the painting sold at more than doubled the previous auction record. Two year's ago, Pablo Picasso's 1955 "Women of Algiers (Version O)" sold for $179.4 million.
The closest price that artwork has sold for came from private sales. Paintings by Paul Cézanne have sold for $250 million, while paintings by Paul Gauguin have sold for up to $300 million.
The bidding reportedly lasted for 19 minutes and involved five rivals. Each bid increased in around $10 million increments. Joanne Heyler, the founding director of the Los Angeles museum, Broad, commented on the event.
She said, "I've been going to auctions for decades, and I've never heard that room let out a collective gasp like they did when it sold. It's hard for me to even comprehend that level of bidding."
According to the Wall Street Journal, the painting rotated between European royals for hundreds of years after da Vinci completed it. It became almost unrecognizable due to poor cleaning efforts. In 1958, it sold as a "school of da Vinci" work at Sotheby's for only around $125 USD.
Eventually, in 2005, a group of Old Master dealers and conservators advocated for re-authentication of the piece. Now, the painting has broken a world record for its $450.3 million final cost.
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