Da Vinci painting of Christ sells for record $450m

Christie's capitalized on the public's interest in Leonardo, considered one of the greatest artists of all time, with a media campaign that labeled the painting "The Last Da Vinci".

The painting has an interesting sales history.

Peter's painting was valued at $76 million.

The sale beats Pablo Picasso's painting Les Femmes d'Alger (Women of Algiers), which sold for AUD $235 million in May 2015, also at Christie's in NY.

Jussi Pylkkanen, Christie's president, served as the auctioneer for the battle that lasted just under twenty minutes.

The painting was sold again in 1958 and then was acquired in 2005, badly damaged and partly painted over, by a consortium of art dealers who paid less than $10,000. The previous auction record for Leonardo da Vinci was set at Christie's in 2001 when Horse and Rider, a work on paper, sold for $11,481,865.

Christie's had billed the painting as "the greatest artistic rediscovery of the 21st century" and "the last da Vinci" and exhibited it in Hong Kong, San Francisco, London and NY before Wednesday's auction.

Da Vinci Painting Sold For Only $100 In 1958 Smashes World Record After $450 Million Auction

The work, dating from about 1500, was first recorded in the Royal collection of Kings Charles I and Charles II.

Salvator Mundi is a depiction of Christ, with a raised right hand and a glass sphere in his left.

Christie's said most scholars agree the painting is by Leonardo, though some critics have questioned the attribution and some say the extensive restoration muddies the work's authorship.

Christie's senior specialist Alan Wintermute said witnessing the "masterpiece" appear at auction is "as close as I've come to an art world miracle". Members of the public cared little if at all whether the painting might have been executed in part by studio assistants; whether Leonardo had actually made the work himself; or how much of the canvas had been repainted and restored.

"The composition doesn't come from Leonardo". Long-known to have existed, and long-sought after, it seemed just a tantalizingly unobtainable dream until now. It is also wonderful for an Old Master to be at the centre of such attention. Its rediscovery was followed by six years of painstaking research and inquiry to document its authenticity with the world's leading authorities on the works and career of da Vinci.

"After centuries of hiding, da Vinci's Christ as "Salvator Mundi" stirred unmatched sensation in the art world when it was unveiled on the walls of London's National Gallery in 2011", he said.

"It's been called 'the male Mona Lisa, '" he said, "but it doesn't look like it at all".

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  • Stacy Houston