Leonardo da Vinci painting smashes record with staggering $450 million price tag

"Salvator Mundi" sells for a colossal amount of cash.
Image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

It’ll surely be a while before you see this much money being thrown around again.

Leonardo da Vinci’s 500-year-old painting “Salvator Mundi” has broken the record for the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction, selling for an eye-watering $450,312,500, including buyer fees. 

The sale decisively eclipsed the previous record held by Picasso’s “Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’)” — which sold for $179 million in 2015. 

A crowd packed into the Christie’s saleroom in New York City gasped as the price jumped from $332 million to $350 million in one bid. Then again from $370 million to its final cost of $400 million, in a bidding war lasting just under 20 minutes.

“Salvator Mundi” was predicted to sell for over $100 million. So far, the buyer remains unknown.

To compare, the cost of “Salvator Mundi” is enough to buy you 450,000 iPhone X’s, or drive home 12,866 of the base model Tesla Model 3.

According to Christie’s, the price of the painting reflects the sheer rarity of paintings by da Vinci, and by Old Masters. There are fewer than 20 in existence believed to be the creation of da Vinci, and all of them, except “Salvator Mundi,” are in museum collections. 

The painting even had its own trailer, and was dubbed by Christie’s as “The Last da Vinci.”

A depiction of Christ, “Salvator Mundi,” or Saviour of the World, has been described as the “Divine Mona Lisa.” The painting was rediscovered in 2005 at an auction in the U.S., where it was restored and then scrutinised by art scholars. 

In 2011, “Salvator Mundi” was unveiled at an exhibition at the National Gallery in London, one of 16 paintings from da Vinci’s own hand — helping to affirm its status as a work by the Italian master.

While the da Vinci was the main event, Andy Warhol’s “Sixty Last Suppers” also sold for $60 million at the auction, while a 2005 work, “Untitled,” by the late Cy Twombly, was snapped up for $46 million. Chump change, compared to a da Vinci.

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