Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi sells for record $450 million
The identity of the buyer of the poster-sized painting, offered as a special lot in Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on Wednesday, was still unknown.
"Salvator Mundi", which means savior of the world, depicts Jesus Christ in Renaissance clothing, one hand raised in blessing and the other holding a crystal orb.
The painting was once dismissed as a copy and sold only at 45 British pounds in 1958. After its reappearance in 2005, years of research and inquiry by global experts led to the current broad consensus that it was painted by the Italian master himself.
Although extensively repainted, the painting still has signs of the authentic Leonardo touch.
According to an article published by Christie's, "both of Christ's hands, the exquisitely rendered curls of his hair, the orb, and much of his drapery are in fact remarkably well preserved and close to their original state."
The article quoted Martin Kemp at the University of Oxford, one of the leading Leonardo scholars, as saying that "the face is very softly painted, which is characteristic of Leonardo after 1500...It has the uncanny strangeness that the later Leonardo paintings manifest."
"Salvator Mundi" is the most recently discovered da Vinci masterpiece in a century, also one of the fewer than 20 surviving paintings accepted as done by the artist himself.
In 2011 the painting caused a sensation when it was displayed in the exhibition "Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan" at the National Gallery in London. ■
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