Leonardo da Vinci Painting Shatters Auction History with $450.3 Million Sell

CNN's documentary

Around the globe the history-making sell of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" for $450,312,500 captivated the live auction audience at Christie's, as well as the world during an epic 19 minutes of bidding.

1 - Salvator Mundi of Leonardo da VINCI, awarded Wednesday to 450.3 million, by Christie's in NY.

The highest price paid for a work of art at auction had been $179.4 million (152 million euros), for Picasso's "Women of Algiers (Version O)" in May 2015, also at Christie's in NY. The highest known sale price for any artwork had been $300 million, for Willem de Kooning's painting "Interchange", sold privately in September 2015 by the David Geffen Foundation to hedge fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin.

The painting was said to be the last Leonardo in private hands and "the greatest artistic rediscovery of the 21st century".

The winning bid for the piece, titled "Salvator Mundi" ("Savior of the World"), was four times Christie's pre-sale estimate and smashed the world record for the most expensive painting ever sold at auction.

That is the kind of name-brand appeal that Christie's was presumably banking on by placing the painting in its high-profile contemporary art sale, rather than in its less sexy annual old master auction, where it technically belongs. It closes with the text "The Last da Vinci" appearing on screen. The work was exhibited in Hong Kong, San Francisco, London and NY before the sale.

"Leonardo was an unparalleled creative force and a master of the enigmatic".

Leonardo painted "Salvator Mundi" around the same time as the "Mona Lisa", and the two works of art "bear a patent compositional likeness", Gouzer said.

Scholars had long believed "Salvator Mundi" was destroyed, until it re-emerged in 2005. 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 15 and 16 centuries.

The painting has an interesting sales history.

"Salvator Mundi" was attributed to Leonardo after six years of restoration and research, becoming the first discovery of a painting by the Renaissance master since 1909, according to Christie's.

Visitors wait outside Christie's to view Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi", Nov. 14, 2017, in NY.

First recorded in the private collection of King Charles I, the work was auctioned in 1763 before vanishing until 1900, by which time Christ's face and hair had been painted over - once a "quite common" practice, according to Mr Alan Wintermute, Christie's senior specialist for Old Master paintings.

"It's been called 'the male Mona Lisa, '" he said, "but it doesn't look like it at all". "The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the market is an honor that comes around once in a lifetime".