Leonardo Christ painting sells for record $450M

Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi

According to rumors, the Italian artist painted "Salvator Mundi" for the French royal family and it was taken to England by Queen Henrietta Maria when she married King Charles I in 1625.

The painting was consigned to a sale at Sotheby's auction house in 1958 where it fetched just 45 British pounds.

The Cook Collection acquired Da Vinci's painting in 1900, but it was mistaken for a copy.

The price could call into question a legal suit lodged by its Russian seller, who accused a Swiss art dealer in Monaco of allegedly overcharging him when he bought the work for $127.5 million in 2013.

The painting, known as "Salvator Mundi", meaning "savior of the world" in Latin, is now the most expensive painting ever sold.

It beat a record set in May 2015 by Pablo Picasso's Les Femmes D'Alger, which sold for US$179.4 million. It dates to about 1500 and depicts a figure of Christ dressed in Renaissance-style attire, with the right hand raised in benediction and the left holding a crystal orb.

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The value of private sales are rarely known, but a Willem de Kooning and a Gauguin were previously thought the most expensive, sold in 2015 separately for $300 million each, according to United States media reports.

When the sale was first announced by the auction house back in October, thousands of people visited exhibitions to see the painting including in cities like New York, San Francisco, London, as well as Hong Kong. Standing in front of his paintings, it becomes impossible for one's mind to fully unravel or comprehend the mystery radiating from them - both the "Mona Lisa" and "Salvator Mundi" are flawless examples of this.

A staff member poses with a painting by Leonardo da Vinci entitled "Salvator Mundi" in London on October 24, 2017, before it is auctioned in NY. It says it is the only painting by the Renaissance master in private hands.

So huge was interest that almost 30,000 people flocked to see the painting at Christie's showrooms in Hong Kong, London, San Francisco and NY, the auction house said.

"We toured Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi around the world, and at every stop crowds of people were drawn to this painting, wanting to stand in front of the picture and experience it in person", Gouzer said after the sale. "Despite being created approximately 500 years ago, the work of Leonardo is just as influential to the art that is being created today as it was in the 15th and 16th centuries". It was discovered in 2005 and underwent heavy restoration, according to the New York Times. It had been estimated at $100 million. Since it resurfaced, it has been exhibited at the National Gallery in London and at Christie's showrooms all over the world. It was long believed to have existed but was generally presumed to have been destroyed.

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