Salvator Mundi is the only breathtaking masterpiece of the greatest artist of all time owned by a private collector

“Salvator Mundi is a painting of the most iconic figure in the world by the most important artist of all time,” said Loic Gouzer, co-chairman of post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s. The 26-inch tall painting depicts Christ in a blue robe holding a crystal orb, which represents the Earth, and is one of fewer than 20 paintings by the Italian master known still to exist. On Wednesday, the masterpiece, nicknamed ‘the male Mona Lisa’, sold for a total amount, including auction house fees, of $450,312,500 million following 19 minutes of bidding at Christie’s in New York, shattering the record for the most expensive artwork ever sold.

Leonardo is thought to have painted Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World) after 1500, during the same period that he produced

the Mona Lisa, and somehow it made its way into the Royal collection of Charles I in the early Seventeenth Century to disappear until 1900. When it was acquired for the Cook Collection at Doughty House in Richmond, Surrey, the painting was thought to have been by Leonardo’s follower, Bernardino Luini, and in 1958 it was sold by Sotheby’s for just £45 before vanishing once more, until it showed up in Louisiana in 2005. It was then acquired by a consortium of American art dealers for something less than $10,000. In 2011, a six-year restoration and investigation of the painting documented its authenticity as a work by Leonardo, and Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev bought it in 2013 for $127.5 million in a private sale that became the subject of a continuing lawsuit.

The new owner Salvator Mundi was a phone bidder, and Christie’s did no identified him/her on the night of his/her victory.

Ilona Catani Scarlett

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