Leonardo da Vinci’s long lost portrait of Christ ‘Salvator Mundi’ sold for a record smashing $450.3 million (about N162 billion) on Wednesday.
An unidentified buyer bidding via telephone after a protracted bidding war that stretched nearly 20 minutes at the New York auction house purchased it.
The 517-year-old artwork sold for more than double the old price for any work of art at auction.
The painting, only recently rediscovered, was the last da Vinci left in private hands and fetched more than four times Christie‘s’ pre-sale estimate of about $100 million.
It beat a record set in May 2015 by Pablo Picasso’s “Les Femmes D‘Alger,” which sold for $179.4 million, and constituted more than half the sale’s total of $785.9 million, which came in well above the roughly $450 million pre-sale estimate.
The restored portrait, an ethereal depiction of Jesus Christ, which dates to about 1500, is one of fewer than 20 paintings by the Renaissance artist known to still exist.
Art experts now estimate that the painting was made around 1500. But between the mid-1600s and 2005, this piece of da Vinci’s work was lost. The painting now known to be his was thought to be a copy by one of his students, and it was heavily damaged by crude attempts at conservation.
Sold at Sotheby’s to an American collector in 1958 for only 45 pounds, it again sold in 2005 as an over painted copy of the masterwork.
The previous record-holder for the priciest “old master” painting was “Massacre of the Innocents” by Peter Paul Rubens, which sold for $76.7 million in 2002, according to Christie’s. The previous record-holder for the most expensive da Vinci was his “Horse and Rider,” which sold for $11,481,865 at Christie’s in 2001.
Da Vinci is believed to have begun the painting while under the patronage of Louis XII of France between 1506 and 1513.
The sold painting was apparently subsequently owned by Charles 1 of England and recorded in his art collection in 1649 before being auctioned by the son of the Duke of Buckingham and Normandy in 1763. It next appeared in 1900, when a British collector, Francis Cook, the first Viscount of Monserrate, purchased it. The painting was damaged from previous restoration attempts, and its authorship unclear. Cook’s descendants sold it at auction in 1958 for £45.