17 November, 2017
Christie's said most scholars agree the painting is by Leonardo, though some critics have questioned the attribution and some say the extensive restoration muddies the work's authorship.
It was recorded in the collection of King Charles I of England in 1649 but was auctioned to the Duke of Buckingham in 1763.
It was put on the block for Wednesday's auction by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who had purchased it for $127.5 million in a private sale in 2013.
The haunting oil-on-panel painting depicts a half-length figure of Christ as Savior of the World, facing frontally and dressed in flowing robes of lapis and crimson.
1 - Salvator Mundi of Leonardo da VINCI, awarded Wednesday to 450.3 million, by Christie's in NY. While reports have investigated various sensitive mysteries about the work such as reflections in its globe, reports say that it was guaranteed for $80 million, making a sale certain.More news: Iran says resignation of Lebanese PM will create tension in region
"Salvator Mundi" or "Savior of the World", which depicts Jesus Christ , more than doubled the previous record of $179.4 million paid for Pablo Picasso's "The Women of Algiers (Version O)" in NY in 2015. The price tag of the classic piece of artwork makes it the highest valued painting in history. 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. "Long known to have existed, and long sought after, it seemed just a tantalizingly unobtainable dream until now", Wintermute said.
"The composition doesn't come from Leonardo", said Jacques Franck, a Paris-based art historian and Leonardo specialist. This came after more than six years of painstaking research and inquiry to document the painting's authenticity. I can hardly convey how exciting it is for those of us directly involved in its sale.
Francois de Poortere, Head of Old Master Paintings, added: "It is an honor to be entrusted with the sale of this mystical masterpiece".
"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", he said.
In New York, where no museum owns a Leonardo, art lovers lined up outside Christie's Rockefeller Center headquarters on Tuesday to view "Salvator Mundi".
Here is to a moment of art glory.