Da Vinci work fetches record $611m

Kelvin Reese
November 17, 2017

Entitled Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World), the painting is the only one created by the Italian master which is a private possession. "Even for me, it is very hard to pinpoint what it is that makes this painting so poignant, you can not comprehend the mystery of Leonardo".

Last night, Christie's auction house sold "Salvator Mundi", which it claims is the last painting by Leonardo da Vinci in private hands, for an astounding, record-setting $400M (the final price was over $450M with fees).

"It was a moment when all the stars were aligned, and I think Leonardo would be very pleased", said Mr Jussi Pylkkanen, global president of Christie's.

Mukti Khaire, a Cornell University professor who is an expert in the art business, said one of the messages of the da Vinci sale was "the extent to which art is a "business" (note that Christie's purportedly used ads and other marketing practices to increase awareness of the work) and, by extension. that systematically studying markets for art and other cultural goods (books, films, music, etc.) through a business and entrepreneurship lens can yield new insights". Standing in front of his paintings, it becomes impossible for one's mind to fully unravel or comprehend the mystery radiating from them - both the "Mona Lisa" and "Salvator Mundi" are flawless examples of this.

Louis XII of France first commissioned the painting and Charles I of England later owned the piece.

The painting has an interesting sales history. The artwork disappeared once again for nearly 50 years, leaving many scholars to believe it had been destroyed, until it resurfaced in 2005 when it was purchased at an American estate sale.

Bidding representatives react after Salvator Mundi sold for $450 million at Christie's on Wednesday
Bidding representatives react after Salvator Mundi sold for $450 million at Christie's on Wednesday

The provenance of "Salvator Mundi" is largely shrouded in mystery, however. After an extensive restoration, experts spent six years proving that it was painted by Leonardo himself. It was dubbed "the greatest artistic rediscovery of the 21st century".

"My hands were shaking", Modestini said in a statement released through Christie's in October. "I don't know if this is a start of a trend or not".

The value of private sales are rarely known, but a Willem de Kooning and a Gauguin were previously thought the most expensive, sold in 2015 separately for $300 million each, according to U.S. media reports.

When the sale was first announced by the auction house back in October, thousands of people visited exhibitions to see the painting including in cities like New York, San Francisco, London, as well as Hong Kong.

5 - The Scream, a pastel of Edvard MUNCH, was sold, in may 2012, 119,9 million dollars at Sotheby's, the house competing in NY. "The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the market is an honor that comes around once in a lifetime". Long-known to have existed, and long-sought after, it seemed just a tantalizingly unobtainable dream until now.

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