Leonardo at Christie's: a historic record of $ 450.3 million
"Salvator Mundi" - a canvas previously considered lost - became the most expensive lot in auction history, almost doubling the previous record. We publish the first-hand report from Christie's.

"Salvator Mundi" -  painted some 500 years ago by genius Leonardo da Vinci - was sold at a Christie’s evening auction, "Post-War and Contemporary Art," on November 15, 2017 for $450,312,500 (£ 342,182,751 / € 380,849,402). This painting became the most expensive work of art in auction history, almost doubling the previous record. The "War of Bids" over this masterpiece lasted 19 minutes. The ultimate winner was co-chairman of the department of postwar and contemporary art at Christie's, Alex Rotter, on behalf of the client who participated in the auction by phone and wished to remain anonymous. The initial price of the lot was $ 75 million. Auctioneer Jussi Pilkkanen, in total, accepted 45 bets from the audience and from colleagues who talked to customers by phone. In  Christie's hall at Rockefeller Center was attended by about 1,000 people over the course of the auction.


Of the less than 20 works by this distinguished master of the Italian Renaissance that survive today, the "Savior of the World" was, at the time of sale, the last work still in private hands. The painting depicts a half-length portrait of Christ holding a crystal ball in his left hand, while his right hand is raised in a gesture of blessing. Until 2005, the picture was considered lost. The first documented mention of it was found in the inventory of King Charles I (1600-1649) collection. It is believed that it adorned the queen's chambers, Henrietta Maria of France, in the royal palace in Greenwich, and then inherited by Charles II. The next mention of the painting is from 1763, when she was put up for sale by Herbert Sheffield, the illegitimate son of the Duke of Buckingham. Then the painting’s trail was lost until 1900, when it is acquired by Sir Charles Robinson, but as a work of Bernardino Luini, one of Leonardo da Vinci’s followers. The "Salvator Mundi" resided over Kukov family meetings, located in the Richmond Doughty House. In 1958, when information about the royal provenance and authorship of Leonardo was lost, the picture went under the hammer during the auction Sotheby's for only £ 45, after which it is again forgotten for almost half a century. In 2005, the painting was bought by its new owner to the auction house, underwent painstaking research and evaluation that lasted six years. Eventually, the hand of Leonardo was confirmed by the leading experts in the artist's work.


A few more facts about the past auction:


- The total revenue for the entire evening auction "Post-war and contemporary art" was $785,942,250 / £ 597,220,555 / € 664,706,477


- The top lots of trades were "Salvator Mundi" by Leonardo da Vinci, which sold for a record $450 312 500, and "The Last Supper" by Andy Warhol, who went under the mallet for $60,875,000.


- During the auction, 14 records were set, including works by Lee Krasner, Hans Hoffman, William Baziotis, Isamu Noguchi and other artists.


- This is the second most successful result in the history of auctions at Christie's dedicated to postwar and contemporary art.


- A selection of works from the collection of four Bass in the sum brought $161,149,750, significantly exceeding the total estimated cost of works, which amounted to $120 million.


- Among the collection of works from the collection of the family of Apple, the most expensive lot was Franz Klein’s abstract, sold for $ 20 million. The entire selection totalled in  $71,381,000.

16 November 2017
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