Breaking records! Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” painting was sold for a whopping $450 million during an auction in New York. The historic moment took place on Wednesday, November 15, at Christie’s Auction House and it broke the auction world record — previously set at $76 million for Peter Paul Rubens’ “Massacre of the Innocents.”
“Salvator Mundi” is one of less than 20 paintings by da Vinci known to be in existence and it is now the only one that belongs to a private owner, though the bidder remains unknown. The New York Times reported that Christie’s cochairman, Alex Rotter, was the one who made the winning bid for the client on the phone, after making two major jumps to beat out rival bidder Francis de Poortere.
Christie’s global president, Jussi Pylkkänen, served as the auctioneer for the bidding battle that lasted for under 20 minutes. “It is every auctioneer’s ambition to sell a Leonardo and likely the only chance I will ever have. It’s the pinnacle of my career so far,” Pylkkänen said on Christies’ website. “It is also wonderful for an Old Master to be at the center of such attention. The excitement from the public for this work of art has been overwhelming and hugely heartening.”
The bidding took place in front of an audience full of art collectors, dealers, journalists, advisors as well as a live stream on Facebook, which allowed thousands of others to tune in during the major moment for the art world.
The sale of the “Male Mona Lisa” was first announced in October, and since then thousands have visited the painting’s exhibitions in New York, San Francisco, London and Hong Kong. The previous record for da Vinci’s artwork was set at $11 million when the “Horse and Rider” sculpture was sold in 2001