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Tuesday 22 May 2018

Da Vinci painting of Christ is sold for record €380m

Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi. Photo: Reuters
Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi. Photo: Reuters

A painting of Christ by the Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci sold for a record $450m (€380m) at auction yesterday, smashing previous records for artworks sold at auction or privately.

The painting, Salvator Mundi, Latin for "saviour of the world", is one of fewer than 20 paintings by da Vinci known to exist and the only one in private hands.

It was sold by Christie's auction house, which did not immediately identify the buyer.

"Salvator Mundi is a painting of the most iconic figure in the world by the most important artist of all time," said Loic Gouzer, of Christie's.

"The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the market is an honour that comes around once in a lifetime."

The highest price paid for a work of art at auction had been $179m (€152m), for Pablo Picasso's painting Women Of Algiers (Version O) in May 2015, also at Christie's in New York.

The highest known sale price for any artwork had been $300m (€253m), for Willem de Kooning's painting Interchange, sold privately in September 2015.

People in the auction house gallery applauded and cheered when the bidding reached $300m, and when the hammer came down on the final bid.

The 66cm tall painting dates from around 1500 and shows Christ dressed in Renaissance-style robes, his right hand raised in blessing as his left hand holds a crystal sphere.

Disappeared

Its path from Leonardo's workshop to the auction block at Christie's was not smooth.

Once owned by King Charles I of England, it disappeared from view until 1900, when it was acquired by a British collector. At that time it was attributed to a Leonardo disciple, rather than the master himself.

The painting was sold again in 1958 and then was acquired in 2005 by a consortium of art dealers, who restored it and documented its authenticity.

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