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17 November 2017, 12:37 | Ivan Casey
Is this $450 Million da Vinci Even a Real da Vinci?
A 500-year-old painting believed to be by Leonardo da Vincisold for $450.3 million in NY on Wednesday, blazing a new world record for the most expensive work of art sold at auction, Christie's said.
When it re-emerged in 2005, this exquisite work, depicting Jesus Christ as the savior of the world, became the first discovery of a painting by Leonardo da Vinci since 1909. Prior to Wednesday's sale, the record for the most expensive painting sold was $179,364,992 for Picasso's Les Femmes d'Alger (Version "O") in May 2015.
There is one Da Vinci work that no such private collector will be able to get his or her hands on, though. The auction house hosted public viewings of the painting for more than 27,000 people in cities around the world before the sale.
Loic Gouzer, Chairman, Post-War and Contemporary Art, New York, remarked: "Salvator Mundi is a painting of the most iconic figure in the world by the most important artist of all time".
Many celebrities were present at its auction, including Leonardo DiCaprio, who is slated to play the Renaissance painter in an upcoming film by Paramount, singer Jennifer Lopez and singer-songwriter Patti Smith. The art dealers restored the painting and documented its authenticity as a work by Leonardo. When a controversial piece of such dubious authenticity is sold at prices no museum can afford, making it available only to the increasingly indistinguishable cliques of oligarchs and their head-of-state business pals, it contributes to a market where expertise and devotion to art are dispensed with; the final word on what's a Leonardo and what isn't goes to the highest bidder, not the most knowledgeable or most dedicated scholar.
"Leonardo was an unparalleled creative force and a master of the enigmatic". The price tag of the classic piece of artwork makes it the highest valued painting in history.
Wednesday's price was all the more extraordinary given that the oil on panel fetched only 45 British pounds in 1958, at the time believed to have been a copy, before subsequently disappearing for years. It disappeared once again for almost 50 years, emerging in 2005 when it was purchased from an American estate at a small regional auction house.
The new owner then started the restoration process and, after years of research, it was authenticated as a da Vinci masterpiece.
The provenance of "Salvator Mundi" is largely shrouded in mystery, however. "Long known to have existed, and long sought after, it seemed just a tantalizingly unobtainable dream until now", Wintermute said.
Furthermore, he added it's honestly "wonderful" for an "Old Master" to be at the center of attention once again. After centuries of hiding, da Vinci's Christ as "Salvator Mundi " stirred unmatched sensation in the art world when it was unveiled on the walls of London's National Gallery in 2011.
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