Da Vinci painting sells for world-record $450 million at auction

By Daniel Uria  |  Nov. 15, 2017 at 9:59 PM
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Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi sold for a world-record $450 million at an auction in New York on Wednesday.

The painting of Jesus Christ, known as "Savior of the World" in English, sold for $450,312,500, making it the most expensive painting ever sold at auction, according to auction house Christie's.

"It is every auctioneer's ambition to sell a Leonardo and likely the only chance I will ever have." Jussi Pylkkanen, Christie's Global President, said. "It''s the pinnacle of my career so far. It is also wonderful for an Old Master to be at the centre of such attention. The excitement from the public for this work of art has been overwhelming and hugely heartening."

The auction lasted about 19 minutes as nearly 1,000 art collectors, dealers, advisors, journalists and onlookers came together at the main auction room at Rockefeller Center.

Salvator Mundi, also called the "Male Mona Lisa," is one of about 20 believed to be painted by da Vinci himself and the only one not already on display in a museum.

The previous record for the most expensive painting sold at auction was $179,364,992 for Picasso's Les Femmes d'Alger and the highest price paid at auction for a da Vinci was $11,481,865 for his Horse and Rider.

It's believed da Vinci painted the work around 1500, the same year he painted the Mona Lisa.

The painting had been discovered in a a small, regional auction in the United States in 2005 covered with overpaints and mistaken for a copy for decades.

Nearly 30,000 people gathered to get a glimpse of the painting at pre-auction viewings in Hong Kong, London, San Francisco and New York.

"There is extraordinary consensus it is by Leonardo," former Christie's co-chariman Nicholas Hall told the New York Times. "This is the most important old master painting to have been sold at auction in my lifetime."

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