8 months ago
Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” is officially the most expensive artwork to ever sell at auction, going for $450.3 million at Christie’s in New York, reports CNN. The painting is thought to date back to 1500 and is one of the fewer than 20 authenticated works by the famous Italian in existence.
The original estimates had predicted the painting would go for at least $100 million, but the new record was set after about 20 minutes of telephone bidding. The previous record was held by Picasso’s “Les Femmes d’Alger,” which sold for $179.4 million in 2015, according to CNN.
“Salvator Mundi” is not as detailed or clear as the “Mona Lisa,” but it still attracted large crowds during pre-auction viewings in London, Hong Kong, and San Francisco. It shows Jesus Christ holding a crystal orb, with one hand raised in blessing, writes CNN. It was commissioned by Louis XII of France and was later owned by England’s Charles I, however, it had thought to be lost since the late 18th century.
However, some people don’t believe that this is the real thing. Jerry Saltz writes in Vulture that “its surface is inert, varnished, lurid, scrubbed over, and repainted so many times that it looks simultaneously new and old.” But more importantly, Saltz thinks the painting is a sham because experts estimate there are only 15 to 20 existing da Vinci paintings, but not one of them shows a picture straight on like “Salvator Mundi,” they all show people in more complex poses. He writes, “Leonardo never let a subject come at you all at once like this much more Byzantine, flat, forward-facing symmetry.”
Real or not, the painting is moving on to a new home.