If you are an admirer of artworks, this piece of news will certainly splatter hues onto your imaginative palette. Da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’, which means ‘Saviour of the World’, is a painting of Christ that has been announced the most expensive artistic creations sold for a whopping $450 million. The painting displays Christ dressed in Renaissance style robes with one hand raised and the other holding a crystal sphere.
This masterwork has been traced to be created during the same period when Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa, sometime after 1500. Leonardo died in 1519 and after that his prized work entered the Royal Collection of Charles I in the early 17th Century. Around 1763, it disappeared and in 1900, an art collector, Sir Charles Robinson acquired it for the “Cook Collection at Doughty House in Richmond, Surrey.” However, at that time the work was thought to be Bernardino Luini’s (Leonardo’s follower) creation. Before the world discovered ‘Salvator Mundi’s’ origin in 1958, the painting was sold by Sotheby’s at a throw away price of £45 to an art dealer, until it made its way to Louisiana in 2005. The masterpiece valued at under $200 journeyed 60 years to be esteemed at this record-breaking price.
Subsequently, it was purchased by Robert Simon and Alex Parish from an estate sale in New Orleans in 2005 for $10000. Post procurement, the work of genius was restored and gradually appreciated in value. Simon, who runs the Robert Simon Fine Arts in Manhattan, reported to CNBC that he had no clue of the painting to be an actual da Vinci one and that “it appeared to be damaged, but worthy Renaissance-era work.” He added, “I thought it was beautiful but battered, and greatly overpainted. In my wildest imagination I would never have thought it was a da Vinci.” The partners recruited Dianne Dwyer Modestini, notable New York University paintings conservator to take up restoration of the work of art. Simon exclaimed, “Once the layer ancient paint was scraped down and the original work started to emerge, this magical feeling took hold. I knew this was the real deal.” “Seconds later, those thoughts turned to fear! I mean, now I have a bona fide da Vinci on my hands, how the heck do I keep it safe?”
Dwyer Modestini had safely kept the 17X15 inch painting in her studio throughout restoration and later shifted it to a high-end art world off-site locker. In 2011, the painting was nicknamed “the male Monalisa”, following a six-year long analysis and was confirmed to be one of Leonardo’s attributions and a great artistic discovery of the past hundred years. Correspondingly, it was exhibited at the National Gallery. The painting was taken around the world by the auction house with nearly 27000 people viewing it at various events across Hong Kong, London and San Franciso.
Such multitude accounts for the highest number of spectators for any individual artwork ever. The painting was rendered the look of a shrine as it was hung at the end of a faintly lit room in the New York Museum. As an initiative towards its sale, they also released promotional video featuring celebrities, Leonardo DiCaprio and Patti Smith, both staring at the painting, depicting their appreciation for the masterpiece’s beauty. Alan Hobart, director of the Pyms Gallery in London stated that “It’s been a brilliant marketing campaign.” While some noted artists question the painting’s provenance, others oppose the extensive restoration as interfering with the work’s invention. However, Christie’s exclaim that most scholars now believe in the work’s ingenuity.
Earlier this week, thousands of art lovers gathered outside the Christie’s Rockefeller Centre headquarters to view the artwork in New York. Nina Doede exclaimed to the New York Times, “Standing in front of that painting was a spiritual experience. It was breathtaking. It brought tears to my eyes.”
Dr Tim Hunter, considered an expert in Old Master and 19th Century art, reported to the BBC that ‘Salvator Mundi’ is “the most important discovery in the 21st Century”It completely smashes the record for the last Old Masters painting to sell – Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in 1988. Records get broken from time to time but not in this way. Da Vinci painted less than 20 oil paintings and many are unfinished so it’s incredibly rare and we love that in art.” Prior to the auction the painting was owned by Russian billionaire collector Dmitry E Rybolovlev. He is reported to have bought the classic work in a private sale in May 2013 for $127.5m.
The highest price paid for any artwork so far has been recorded at $179.4million for Pablo Picasso’s painting “Women of Algiers (Version O)” in May 2015. This was also auctioned at the Christie’s. In September 2015, Willem de Kooning’s painting “Interchange” was privately sold to Kenneth C. Griffin by the David Geffen Foundation at the highest logged sale price of $300 million. While a supporter of the “Salvator Mundi” auction had guaranteed a minimum $100 million bid, the price touched $300 million midway through the bidding itself. The record sale price includes the buyer’s premium and a fee paid by the auction house’s winner. The auction house has not yet revealed the name of the buyer, but Hunter speculates it could either be an individual from the Asian market or making its way to Louvre in Abu Dhabi.
Article by Rochita.