Salvator Mundi: The Last Privately Owned Leonardo da Vinci Painting Known to Exist Fetches $450.3 Million at Auction
On November 15th, 2017, the painting which once sold at auction in 1958 for just £45, which is an equivalent to $90, smashes records at Christie’s in a historic bidding match. It was estimated for $100 million and soared to 450.3 Million. It is believed that this is the most ever paid for an artwork.
According to Artnews:
“It was purchased by a client on the phone with department head Alex Rotter after a 19-minute session that involved five bidders, four on the phone and one in the room.”
The bids came from every part of the world.
Who bought Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi? The Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman is the new owner.
Speculations abounded regarding the purchase on the last privately owned da Vinci. News broke on Dec. 7th 2017, from the Louvre Abu Dhabi, saying that the newly inaugurated Emirati museum was going to display the painting. The Louvre Abu Dhabi revealed that it had actually acquire the work through Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism, though it is still unclear how the acquisition was made and what connection it has to Prince Mohammed. According to ArtNews, “The Saudi Arabian embassy in America said that Prince Bader has been a supporter of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and that on November 8, at the Louvre’s opening ceremony, the Department of Culture and Tourism approached the prince and asked him to act as an “intermediary purchaser.” The statement does not mention Prince Mohammed, the piece’s true buyer.”
Who is Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud?
Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud also known as MBS, is the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, also serving as First Deputy Prime Minister, President of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs and Minister of Defense—currently the world’s youngest office holder. Few people outside Saudi Arabia had heard of Prince Mohammed bin Salman before his father became king in 2015. But since then, the 32-year-old has become the most influential figure in the world’s leading oil exporter.
Known to be a fan of the arts, he used a proxy to buy the masterpiece.
The History of Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World)
Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World) dates from around 1500 – 1506 and measures measures 45×65 cm (26×18 inches). It’s a fairly newly discovered Masterpiece and was authenticated in 2005. It was presumed to have been destroyed when all traces of the work was lost until 1900 at which time Sir Frederick Cook acquired the painting. The painting sustained several over-paint jobs over the years that obscured its true identity and its authorship by Leonardo forgotten.
Not knowing the painting was an original by Leonardo, Cook’s descendants sold the painting at auction in 1958 for just £45 which is an equivalent to $90.
In 2005, the painting was acquired from an American estate and brought to a consortium of art dealers and a New York art historian and private dealer named Robert Simon for study.
Salvator Mundi Before Restoration
The Masterpiece had been heavily overpainted, which makes it look like a copy. It was dark and gloomy and had been cleaned many times in the past by people who didn’t know better. Once a restorer put artificial resin on it, which had turned gray, it had to be removed painstakingly. After an extensive conservation treatment by New York-based conservator Dianne Dwyer Modestini, the painting was examined by a series of international scholars.
After the restoration was completed, which took almost a year, a consensus was reached that the Salvator Mundi was in fact the original by Leonardo da Vinci.
There are currently some 15 authenticated Leonardo da Vinci paintings in the world. But they are difficult to attribute, because da Vinci often left his works unfinished.
The last painting by Leonardo da Vinci to be discovered was the “Benois Madonna” in 1909.
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