Who has $450 million lying around?
Leonardo da Vinci must be smiling, wherever he may be. His painting “Salvator Mundi” sold on Wednesday night for $450.3 million to a still undisclosed buyer from Christie’s Rockefeller Center headquarters on Nov. 15.
The bid was exciting. There was 19-minutes of bidding action between five bidders—one in the room and four on the phone. The New York Times reported that it quickly climbed up to $225 million, and then started going up by fives, then twos.
There was an air of elegance in the room as some of the top art dealers in the world filled the room with eager anticipation.
Jussi Pylkkanen, the auctioneer from Christie’s, said, “It’s an historic moment; we’ll wait.”
Art critics have said that the quality of the painting isn’t the best, and some even question its authenticity.
Something that made this action so unprecedented was the marketing campaign Christie’s put out into the art world. They actually hired an outside firm to advertise this particular piece. They even created a video reminding art lovers that this was the only known da Vinci painting held in a private collection.
Prior to the auction, more than 27,000 went to see the painting at pre-auction viewings in London, Hong Kong, New York and San Francisco. Most people, don’t seem to care if this work of art was primarily made by da Vinci, or if assistants finished most of it. Also, how much of the canvass had been repainted or restored over the years. People just wanted to connect with a Renaissance masterwork that had been rediscovered in 2005.
This piece of art had a convoluted sales history. It bounced around a lot and was originally valued at $10,000 upon discovery. Soon after, the price jumped to $200,000 at an estate auction. Prices went up and down over the last decade or so until it hit the $450 million and change mark earlier this week.
An expensive piece of art previously bought at action was Picasso’s “Women of Algiers,” which fetched $179.4 million at Christie’s in May 2015.
Leonardi da Vinci’s work is in only a handful of museums all over the world.