'Salvator Mundi,' the Last Known Painting by Leonardo da Vinci Just Sold for $450.3 Million | Artnet News (2023)

After weeks of anticipation, it finally happened: Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi (circa 1500), billed as the last known painting by the Renaissance master in private hands, sold at Christie’s for$450.3 million. It is, by far, the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction. In fact, the price is more than double the next most expensive work ever sold,Picasso’s Les femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’), which fetched $179.4 million in 2015.

The work went to an anonymous client of Alex Rotter, Christie’s global co-head of contemporary art. Before a packed salesroom and scores of camera phones held aloft, bidding opened at $70 million. At $190 million, five bidders—four on the phones and one in the room—were still chasing the painting.

The 19-minute contest eventually came down to Rotter andFrancois De Poortere, the head of Christie’s Old Master painting department in New York.

At $352 million, auctioneer Jussi Pylkkanen produced a glass of ice water from behind the rostrum and took a sip.

After a protracted bidding war in which Rotter’s client continued to bid in increments as large as $30 million—andDe Poortere’s client bid in smaller steps of around $2 million–5 million—the work hammered down for $400 million to a flurry of applause (and a few gasps). With the auction house’s fees, the final price was $450.3 million.

The painting was one of 58 works included in Christie’s evening sale of postwar and contemporary art on Wednesday at Rockefeller Center in New York.

'Salvator Mundi,' the Last Known Painting by Leonardo da Vinci Just Sold for $450.3 Million | Artnet News (1)

Christie’s salesroom the moment after the hammer came down, selling Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi for $400 million. Photo: Eileen Kinsella.

Salvator Mundiwas consigned by the Russian billionaireDmitry Rybolovlev, who bought it in 2013. At tonight’s sale, the work carried a guarantee by a third party, which means that an outside buyer had essentially committed to purchase the painting in advance for $100 million. (In exchange for the early commitment, theguarantor will receive a share of the profits above $100 million.)

The auction house took the unusual move of placing the work in its evening contemporary art auction, essentially betting that it would appeal to the biggest trophy-hunting art collectors regardless of when it was made. And indeed, the battle eventually came down to an Old Master specialist (De Poortere) and a contemporary one (Rotter), with the latter emerging victorious after a long sequence of aggressive bids.

Until now, the most expensive painting ever sold at auction was Pablo Picasso’s Les femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’)(1955), which was sold at another genre-mixing sale at Christie’s in May 2015 for$179.4 million. (Accounting for inflation, the price is around $186 million in 2017 dollars.)

And though it was included in the contemporary sale, Salvator Mundi alsoeasily become the most expensive Old Master painting ever sold at auction. It broke the record set by Peter Paul Rubens’s Massacre of the Innocents(1612), which fetched $76.7 million (equivalent to $106 million today) at Sotheby’s in 2002.

The Leonardo painting has adramatic backstory that involves a royal family, an estate sale, and a contentious lawsuit. Originally commissioned for the French Royal collection, it went missing for decades. In 2005, a consortium of dealers spotted the painting at an estate sale and had it authenticated as a bona fide Leonardo. In 2013, they sold the work to Swiss dealer and so-called “freeport king” Yves Bouvier for a price reportedlybetween $75 million and $80 million.

Bouvier then flipped the work to Russian billionaireDmitry Rybolovlev for a reported $127.5 million. The colossal mark-up eventually touched off a contentious legal battle between the two men that is still playing out in international courts.

Although Rybolovlev made a tidy profit on his purchase, the record-breaking sale has done little to repair the relationship between the billionaire and his former advisor. “Thanks to the professionalism and expertise of Christie’s, the record-breaking sale of Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi has helped restore some of the value of the collection,” a representative from Rybolovlev’s family office told artnet News in a statement. “This is a welcome development for the Rybolovlev family trusts as we undertake legal proceedings to address the shocking alleged fraud committed by Yves Bouvier who deceived the family, all while pretending to be a friend and advisor.”

Condition and restoration issues are believed to have influenced the work’s lower offering price at Christie’s—$27.5 million less than Rybolovlev paid. The damaged work was heavily restored ahead of its debut in a Leonardo exhibition at the National Gallery in London in 2012.

Attorney Thomas Danziger, who represented the consortium of three dealers who sold the work privately through Sotheby’s in 2013, told artnet News ahead of the sale:“Certainly the subsequent purchase by the current owner at a very high number validates the marketplace and the legitimacy of the picture and would justify an even higher purchase price in the auction room tonight.”

News of the painting’s sale set off something of a Leonardo frenzy. It attracted lines around the block on nearly every stop of its promotional world tour, including in London and San Francisco. Nearly 27,000 people came to see the painting.

Seventy-five members of the press registered to cover tonight’s auction. (Christie’s said it hit maximum capacity.) The auction house also took the unorthodox step of requiring bidders who wanted in on the Leonardo action to register for a special red paddle in advance.

Fascination with the painting sparked a flood of stories about the mysterious orb and what motivated Leonardo, an avid student of optics, to render it with less than 100 percent accuracy.

Asked about the staggering resulton Twitter, the author Walter Isaacson, who just released a new biography on the Renaissance master, said: “I think it shows the enduring allure of Leonardo. He blesses us with a sharp hand reaching out from mystery, just like Salvator Mundi does.”

Meanwhile, artnet News’s critic Ben Davis has his own fascinating take on the picture, writing that the Christie’s sale is “thelatest and perhaps most convincing portent that we are living in the End Times.”

The painting has sold for more money than most people could ever imagine. Cue the apocalypse.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.


'Salvator Mundi,' the Last Known Painting by Leonardo da Vinci Just Sold for $450.3 Million | Artnet News? ›

Tonight, at an absolutely packed salesroom at Christie's headquarters at Rockefeller Center in New York, Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi

Salvator Mundi
The painting depicts Jesus Christ in an anachronistic blue Renaissance dress, making the sign of the cross with his right hand, while holding a transparent, non-refracting crystal orb in his left, signaling his role as Salvator Mundi and representing the 'celestial sphere' of the heavens.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Salvator_Mundi_(Leonardo)
(ca. 1500) sold for $450.3 million. That figure is, by a long shot, the all-time record for a painting at auction and the most ever believed to have been paid for an artwork.

When was Salvator Mundi last sold? ›

Despite the painting's flaws, it broke all auction records when it was sold in 2017. It was likely purchased by the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, via a proxy. The painting has not been seen publicly since the sale, and as of 2022 its whereabouts remained unknown.

When was Salvator Mundi sold for $450 million? ›

At the record-breaking sale at Christie's New York on 15 November 2017, the audience gasped and whooped as if they were at a very exclusive firework display. It was like being at a very expensive, very exclusive firework display.

How much is the Salvator Mundi worth today? ›

Behind the Art: 'Salvator Mundi': The mystery of Da Vinci's controversial painting worth $450.3 million.

Who is the claimed painter of Salvator Mundi which sold at auction for $450 million? ›

Christie's made history by auctioning a newly discovered painting by Leonardo da Vinci for $450 million. Five years since the auction, not all critics believe the portrait was painted by the polymath. Every argument for why Salvator Mundi is a real Leonardo easily can be construed as an argument for why it is not.

Who owns Salvator Mundi now? ›

Mohammad bin Salman

Is Salvator Mundi still missing? ›

By 1625, Charles I of England had acquired the painting, but following his execution in 1649, it seemingly disappeared. Salvator Mundi only reappeared in the early 20th century, when it was sold as a work by Leonardo follower Bernardino Luini.

Why is the Salvator Mundi so valuable? ›

This could be attributed to specific reasons, mainly it depicting Christ in the Renaissance theme and also it probably being the last work by Leonardo. Also, there are only less than twenty paintings of da Vinci known, and this particular being the only one that remained in someone's possession.

Where is the Salvator Mundi right now? ›

“[Salvator Mundi] is in Saudi Arabia and the country is constructing an art gallery, which is to be finished in 2024, I think,” art historian and noted Leonardo scholar Martin Kemp said at last week's Cheltenham Literary Festival in the U.K., as reported by the Art Newspaper.

Who owns the most expensive painting? ›

Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci

The New York Times reported the buyer was acting for a Saudi prince, Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud—the painting has since been under the ownership of the Saudi Arabian culture ministry.

Is the Mona Lisa worth more than Salvator Mundi? ›

Mona Lisa's Record Valuation

In 1962, The Mona Lisa received a valuation of $100m. If you account for inflation, she's worth over $834m in today's money. This is almost double the $450m paid for the Salvator Mundi in November 2017.

Which is more expensive Mona Lisa or Salvator Mundi? ›

Salvator Mundi ($475.4 Million)

Making Salvator Mundi the most expensive artwork to be auctioned in the world.

Who is the face of Salvator Mundi? ›

As seen today, Salvator Mundi depicts the curly-haired Christ gazing at the viewer as he raises his right hand in a blessing. In his left hand, Jesus cradles a crystal orb that testifies to his position as savior of the world.

Did da Vinci paint Jesus? ›

But before Salvator Mundi, the 500- year-old painting of Christ by Leonardo da Vinci that has caused an international frenzy, broke auction house records, it was long thought to be merely a copy of the lost original and was at one point worth a mere £45.

How was Salvator Mundi found? ›

"Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi," which was discovered by American art dealer Alexander Parish at an estate sale in the mid-2000s, was sold to an unidentified collector for between $75 milllion and $80 million in May 2013.

What is the most expensive painting in the world? ›

The most expensive paintings in the world

The most expensive painting ever sold is the Salvator Mundi, the Saviour of the World in English, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.

How much is starry night worth? ›

The Starry Night painting has been highly esteemed for decades and its value has reached $100 million, following its $50 million sale in 1990. Many investors are attracted to his artwork for its financial value.

How much is the Mona Lisa worth? ›

The Mona Lisa is priceless. Any speculative price (some say over a billion dollars!) would probably be so high that not one person would be able or willing to purchase and maintain the painting. Moreover, the Louvre Museum would probably never sell it.

How many Salvator Mundi are there? ›

There are over thirty extant paintings based on the Salvator Mundi or on the related Christ the Redeemer. Two of them have recently been dated the late sixteenth century, years after Leonardo's death.

What is the most expensive painting ever stolen? ›

The largest art theft in world history occurred in Boston on March 18, 1990, when thieves stole 13 pieces, collectively valued at $500 million, from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Among the pieces stolen was Vermeer's The Concert, which is considered to be the most valuable stolen painting in the world.

Who owns the lost Leonardo? ›

Eager to strengthen the international aura of his canvas, his owner Mohammed bin Salman had denied the Louvre the loan of the work because the French institution refused to accept his terms: the Salvator Mundi should have stood next to the Mona Lisa – history's most famous work of art in the world's most visited museum ...

Who painted the most famous picture of Jesus? ›

#1 The Last Supper - Leonardo Da Vinci

The most famous painting of Jesus Christ is undoubtedly The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci .

What does Salvator Mundi mean in English? ›

Salvator Mundi, Latin for Saviour of the World, is a subject in iconography depicting Christ with his right hand raised in blessing and his left hand holding an orb (frequently surmounted by a cross), known as a globus cruciger.

What is the most controversial painting in the world? ›

Plenty of paintings have been called the “most controversial,” and the Salvator Mundi (produced after 1500; “Savior of the World”) is only the latest to be given that title.

Why would anyone pay $450 million for the Salvator Mundi because they re not buying the painting? ›

Because They're Not Buying the Painting. An attempt to psychoanalyze the buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi. '

Why was Salvator Mundi destroyed? ›

“Salvator Mundi” was pulled by its owners after the Louvre refused to hang it next to the “Mona Lisa,” and in response the museum did not publicize their authentication of the painting, according to The New York Times.

Who owns Mona Lisa? ›

It was acquired by King Francis I of France and is now the property of the French Republic. It has been on permanent display at the Louvre in Paris since 1797.

What is the most expensive city in the world? ›

The Julius Baer Lifestyle Index, which ranks the world's most expensive cities annually, finds that Asia is the costliest region for luxury living, with Singapore ranking as the world's most expensive city. This year, it surpassed Shanghai, the No. 1 city in 2022.

What is the most expensive house in the world? ›

The Most Expensive House in the World 2023
  • Buckingham Palace – $1.3 Billion.
  • Antilia – $1 Billion.
  • Villa Leopolda – $750 Million.
  • Villa Les Cèdres – $450 Million.
  • Les Palais Bulles – $390 Million.
  • The Odeon Tower Penthouse – $330 Million.
  • Four Fairfield Pond – $248 Million.

What is the most expensive painting sold in America? ›

The Shot Sage Blue Marilyn set a record as one of the most expensive 20th-century artworks when it sold for $195 million in May 2022 at Christie's, New York.

How much is Van Gogh sunflowers worth? ›

How much is 'Sunflowers' worth? When Van Gogh's own copy of the original version went on auction at Christie's, as much as 40 million dollars was paid to purchase it. Taking into account inflation, this painting would have cost $100m. It was purchased by Tokyo-based Yasuda insurance company.

Who stole the Mona Lisa? ›

In 1911, Vincenzo Peruggia stole da Vinci's masterpiece from Paris and later brought it to Florence. But the theft's success as a repatriation effort was very short-lived.

Can the Mona Lisa be bought? ›

Truly priceless, the painting cannot be bought or sold according to French heritage law. As part of the Louvre collection, "Mona Lisa" belongs to the public, and by popular agreement, their hearts belong to her.

What is the most expensive Mona Lisa copy? ›

In June, a European collector bought another 17th century copy of Mona Lisa for €2.9 million, a record for a reproduction of the work, at an auction at Christie's in Paris. In 2017, Christie's New York sold Leonardo's 'Salvator Mundi' for a record €389 million.

Has anyone tried to steal the Mona Lisa? ›

On the 21st of August 1911, a man named Vincenzo Peruggia committed an infamous art crime that made history. He stole what is now the most famous painting in the world, Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, 1503, from the Louvre in Paris.

What living artist has the most expensive paintings? ›

The current record price is US$91 million for Jeff Koons's 1986 sculpture, Rabbit, set in 2019. The current record price for a painting is $90 million for David Hockney's 1972 Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures), set the prior year.

What did Jesus look like? ›

For many scholars, Revelation 1:14-15 offers a clue that Jesus's skin was a darker hue and that his hair was woolly in texture. The hairs of his head, it says, "were white as white wool, white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined as in a furnace.”

Where was Jesus from? ›

Bethlehem lies 10 kilometres south of the city of Jerusalem, in the fertile limestone hill country of the Holy Land. Since at least the 2nd century AD people have believed that the place where the Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, now stands is where Jesus was born.

Did da Vinci paint the crucifixion? ›

He appears here as an example of the most advanced Lombard pictorial culture, which Leonardo radically renewed with his presence. The Crucifixion, painted with the fresco technique – unlike the Last Supper – is still well preserved. The scene occupies the whole wall and is set within a simple architectural frame.

When was Jesus born? ›

The date of birth of Jesus is not stated in the gospels or in any historical sources, but most biblical scholars generally accept a date of birth between 6 BC and 4 BC, the year in which King Herod died.

Are there any paintings of Jesus when he was alive? ›

There are no known images of Jesus from his lifetime, and while the Old Testament Kings Saul and David are explicitly called tall and handsome in the Bible, there is little indication of Jesus' appearance in the Old or New Testaments.

What are 5 interesting facts about da Vinci? ›

5 Surprising Facts About Leonardo Da Vinci
  • He didn't go to school. ...
  • He liked to dissect corpses. ...
  • His masterpiece was destroyed. ...
  • He wrote in reverse. ...
  • Bill Gates bought Leonardo da Vinci's notebook.

How much is the Mona Lisa insured for? ›

The Mona Lisa is believed to be worth more than $850 million, taking into account inflation. In 1962, the Mona Lisa was insured for $100 million, holding the Guinness World Record for highest ever insurance value in the art market (corresponding to $870 million in 2021).

What's the oldest painting in the World? ›

'” At least 45,500 years ago, a human hand had painted the pigs in ochre, making them the oldest known examples of figurative art by at least several thousand years—and, by some standards, the oldest artwork in the world (1).

Where is the Mona Lisa kept? ›

The world's most famous painting, the Mona Lisa, needs a space big enough to welcome its many admirers. It is therefore housed in the Louvre's largest room, the Salle des États, which is also home to other remarkable Venetian paintings such as The Wedding Feast at Cana by Veronese.

Who bought the Salvator Mundi in 2017? ›

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, who in 2017 purchased Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi at auction for a record-breaking $450 million, is reported to be building a gallery to display the contested work in his home country.

How much is Salvator Mundi worth 2023? ›

Salvator Mundi ($475.4 Million)

The painting itself has been the subject of much debate, with questions about whether it is an original artwork of Leonardo da Vinci or whether he partially contributed to it.

How much did Salvator Mundi sell for in 1958? ›

1958 – Salvator Mundi pops up at a Sotheby's London auction on June 25, 1958. Attributed to Boltraffio, who worked in da Vinci's studio, it sells for £45 ($72) to someone named “Kuntz.”

What is most expensive painting in the world? ›

The most expensive paintings in the world

The most expensive painting ever sold is the Salvator Mundi, the Saviour of the World in English, attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.

How much is the Mona Lisa worth today? ›

The Mona Lisa is priceless. Any speculative price (some say over a billion dollars!) would probably be so high that not one person would be able or willing to purchase and maintain the painting. Moreover, the Louvre Museum would probably never sell it.

How much did the Mona Lisa last sell for? ›

Guinness World Records lists Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa as having the highest ever insurance value for a painting. On permanent display at the Louvre in Paris, the Mona Lisa was assessed at US$100 million on 14 December 1962. Taking inflation into account, the 1962 value would be around US$970 million in 2022.

How much was the Mona Lisa worth in 1911? ›

In 1911, the Mona Lisa was not yet instantly recognizable. In fact, when The Washington Post first reported the theft and appraised the painting's value at $5 million, the paper mistakenly ran a picture of the Monna Vanna, a nude charcoal sketch that some believe da Vinci made in preparation to paint the Mona Lisa.

How many copies of Salvator Mundi are there? ›

There are over thirty extant paintings based on the Salvator Mundi or on the related Christ the Redeemer. Two of them have recently been dated the late sixteenth century, years after Leonardo's death.

How much is the Mona Lisa worth today 2023? ›

The Mona Lisa is one of the most valuable paintings in the world. It holds the Guinness World Record for the highest known painting insurance valuation in history at US$100 million in 1962, equivalent to $1 billion as of 2023.

How much is a Van Gogh painting worth? ›

Van Gogh produced numerous artworks during his lifetime, and each bears an unforgettable uniqueness. He has created some of the most recognizable pieces in art history, including the iconic The Starry Night (1889), estimated at between $70 million to $100 million.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Rueben Jacobs

Last Updated: 01/10/2023

Views: 5339

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (57 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Rueben Jacobs

Birthday: 1999-03-14

Address: 951 Caterina Walk, Schambergerside, CA 67667-0896

Phone: +6881806848632

Job: Internal Education Planner

Hobby: Candle making, Cabaret, Poi, Gambling, Rock climbing, Wood carving, Computer programming

Introduction: My name is Rueben Jacobs, I am a cooperative, beautiful, kind, comfortable, glamorous, open, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.