Last week, a rediscovered painting by Leonardo da Vinci became the most expensive work of art ever sold. The "Salvator Mundi" or "Savior of the World" painting sold for $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 Jesus portrait sold at Christie's auction house. The estimate on the painting was around $100 million, but the final bid blew that estimate out of the water.
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.
There has been some speculation about the origin of the painting, with some critics questioning the value of it. They say that because of the extensive restoration done on the piece, it can barely be attributed to da Vinci. However, most scholars do agree that he was the original painter.
The bidder has remained anonymous for the past week, though many people expect the winner to come forward soon.
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