Leonardo da Vinci’s Christ portrait shatters art record at $450 million
New York: A rediscovered painting by Leonardo da Vinci broke the record for an artwork at auction, selling for $450.3 million at Christie’s in New York on Wednesday.
The 500-year-old “Christ as Salvator Mundi,” which had been estimated at $100 million, was the highly anticipated star of Christie’s evening sale of postwar and contemporary art—an unconventional move by the auction house because of its vintage. The previous auction record for an Old Master painting was held by Peter Paul Rubens, whose “The Massacre of the Innocents” fetched $76.5 million in 2002.
The da Vinci was being sold by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev’s family trust. The fertilizer king purchased it for $127.5 million in 2013 and it’s been at the heart of an international legal battle. Rybolovlev assembled a $2 billion trove with the help of art entrepreneur Yves Bouvier, but in recent years has been selling off works from the collection, often at steep discounts.
“Salvator Mundi,” which belonged to England’s King Charles I in the 17th century, disappeared around 1900. In 2005, it was bought at an estate sale and, after six years of research and restoration, attributed to da Vinci, the first such rediscovery in more than 100 years. Before the auction, Christie’s secured an irrevocable bid by an anonymous investor, meaning it was sure to sell. Bloomberg