Culture

Why art's elephant bucks are behind astonishing da Vinci sale

Why art's elephant bucks are behind astonishing da Vinci sale”

"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.

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.

The previous holder of the record price for an Old Master painting was Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens, which sold for $76.7 million (£49.5 million) in 2002.

Art critics cast doubt on authenticity of Leonardo da Vinci's record-breaking artwork

The highest known sale price for any artwork had been $300 million (253 million euros) for Willem de Kooning's "Interchange" in September 2015, which was sold privately.

These records were obliterated when Jussi Pylkkänen, Christie's Global President, brought the hammer down on Lot 9 after an extraordinary bidding battle that lasted just short of 20 minutes. The artwork disappeared once again for nearly 50 years, leaving many scholars to believe it had been destroyed, until it resurfaced in 2005 when it was purchased at an American estate sale.

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

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For years it was presumed to have been destroyed, emerging only in 2005 when it was purchased from a United States estate. When it re-emerged in 2005, this exquisite work, depicting Jesus Christ as the savior of the world, became the first discovery of a painting by Leonardo da Vinci since 1909.

Alan Wintermute, Senior Specialist, Old Master Paintings at Christie's commented: "The Salvator Mundi is the Holy Grail of old master paintings".

"The composition doesn't come from Leonardo".

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Furthermore, he added it's honestly "wonderful" for an "Old Master" to be at the center of attention once again. 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. 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. Art collectors consider Salvator Mundi as the "male Mona Lisa" making it a legendary piece.

Here is to a moment of art glory.

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