In a spine-tingling auction, the controversial Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World) was sold for $450.3 million, shattering the previous record for the most expensive art sold at a Christie’s auction in New York on Wednesday.
The sale of Leonardo da Vinci controversial painting has left some people stunned. In fact, throughout the sale, there was gasp around the room as bid started climbing to a staggering amount. The bidding war saw offers at $200 million, $300 million and even $350 million, which surpassed Picasso’s “Women of Algiers,” which was bought for $179.4 million in May 2015. The total amount, including fees paid by the new owner of the painting to the auction house, is $450,312,500.
After 19 minutes of war, with one bidder on the room and four on the telephone, the rediscovered painting became the most expensive art piece overnight. Alex Rotter, Christie’s co-chairman of postwar and contemporary art, placed a winning bid on behalf of an unidentified client that would have the auctioneer, Jussi Pylkkanen, slamming the hammer down the podium. The bid definitely had shaken off the remaining rival bid from Francis de Poortere, the auction house’s head of old master paintings.
The 500-year old painting was once part of Charles I’s Royal collection and was sold for merely £45 in the 1950s when it was mistaken for a copy. It’s also the last painting of Leonardo in private hands. Russian Billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev family trust purchased the painting in 2013 for $127.5 million. The fertilizer king family trust was the seller of the painting on Wednesday night. The Da Vinci painting despite the controversies surrounding its authenticity and condition didn’t disappoint the crowd full of millionaires and billionaires including Blackstone Group LP’s Tom Hill and Point72 Asset Management’s Steve Cohen and Philanthropist Eli Broad.
Before the bidding start, Christie’s has already secured an irrevocable bid by an anonymous buyer. There is a guaranteed pre-bid of $100 million before the bidding war had even started, so the painting is sure to sell. What has not been anticipated is the record-breaking result. The sale has become a historical event and the painting become even more popular, after beating the previous records of an expensive painting sold at an auction house.
By the way, the 26-inch tall painting has caught the attention of collectors across the world because of the auction house brilliant marketing campaign. Christie’s billed the painting as “The Last Da Vinci” as well as, took the painting on a world tour. The painting was put on display in London, San Francisco, and Hongkong. An estimated of 27,000 people lined up in Hongkong when the artwork was displayed.
The purchase of the painting can be thought as a wise decision, since whoever owns it can put it in a museum. People would line up just to see a $450 million painting.