The Russian Billionaire Behind Christie's Controversial $450M Leonardo

17 November, 2017, 01:15 | Author: Pamela Mathis
  • Da Vinci sells for $450mn in auction record Christie´s

"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. Rybolovlev's family trust sold the painting, through Christie's, to an undisclosed buyer, but if his name sounds familiar for other reasons, that might be because in 2008 he paid (through a company he controlled) $95M to buy a Palm Beach mansion from Donald Trump.

Loic Gouzer, Chairman, Post-War and Contemporary Art, New York, remarked: "Salvator Mundi is a painting of the most iconic figure in the world by the most important artist of all time". "The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the market is an honor that comes around once in a lifetime". It far surpassed Picasso's "Women of Algiers", which fetched $179.4 million at Christie's in May 2015.

The sale beats Pablo Picasso's painting Les Femmes d'Alger (Women of Algiers), which sold for AUD $235 million in May 2015, also at Christie's in NY.

Prior to Wednesday's highly anticipated sale, Christie's had secured a guaranteed bid for the painting of at least $100 million by an anonymous investor.

"There were gasps throughout the sale, as the bids climbed by tens of millions up to $225 million, by fives up to $260 million, and then by twos". The previous auction record for Leonardo da Vinci was set at Christie's in 2001 when Horse and Rider, a work on paper, sold for $11,481,865.

The 500-year-old oil on panel, titled "Salvator Mundi" ("Savior of the World"), depicts Jesus Christ dressed in flowing robes and holding a crystal orb in his left hand.

The Russian Billionaire Behind Christie's Controversial $450M Leonardo

Its path from Leonardo's workshop to the auction block at Christie's was not smooth.

One of the first owners painting, created sometime after 1505, was King Charles I of England.

The price could call into question a legal suit lodged by its Russian seller, who accused a Swiss art dealer in Monaco of allegedly overcharging him when he bought the work for $127.5 million in 2013. 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.

There is one Da Vinci work that no such private collector will be able to get his or her hands on, though.

On Wednesday evening, an anonymous collector dialed in to a spacious room inside Rockefeller Center in New York City and instructed the person on the other end of the line to spend almost half a billion dollars for a 25.8-inch by 17.9-inch oil painting of Jesus Christ.




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