FLORENCE, ITALY – Leonardo da Vinci’s depiction of Jesus entitled Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World) has been sold for record $450 million (380 million euros) at Christie’s auction house in New York, making it the most expensive artwork ever.
The painting is the only one created by the Italian Renaissance great that is in private hands. Bidding for Salvator Mundi began to slow at $280 million, but the auctioneer paused to give the bidders time to consider whether to raise their bids.
Leonardo da Vinci was the Italian Renaissance polymath whose areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. He has been variously called the father of palaeontology, ichnology, and architecture, and is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time. Sometimes credited with the inventions of the parachute, helicopter and tank, he epitomised the Renaissance humanist ideal.
The highest price paid for a work of art at auction had been $179 million (152 million euros), for Pablo Picasso’s painting Women of Algiers (Version O) in May 2015, also at Christie’s in New York. The highest known sale price for any artwork had been $300 million (253 million euros) paid in a private sale for Willem de Kooning’s Interchange in 2015.
It was seen by more than 30,000 people in New York, Hong Kong, London and San Francisco, which is also a record for a pre-auction show. Christie’s said Salvator Mundi was put up for sale by the family trust of billionaire Dmitri Ryobolev, who bought the painting in 2013 for $127.5 million.