A rare painting of Jesus Christ by Leonardo da Vinci sold for 450 million dollars on Wednesday, breaking the record for the most expensive painting ever sold.
The painting, entitled Salvator Mundi, Latin for Savior of the World, is one of just fifteen paintings by Leonardo da Vinci known to exist. It was painted sometime around the years 1490 to 1519. The piece features Jesus Christ in Renaissance dress, holding a crystal sphere in His left hand and giving a benediction with His right.
It was sold at Christie’s Auction House in New York City, with a bidding contest via telephone that lasted for over 20 minutes. When the final bid came in at $400 million, with buyer’s fees bringing it up to $450 million, the room erupted into cheers and applause.
Leonardo painted the Salvator Mundi for King Louis XII of France. King Charles I of England then acquired it in 1649, before it was auctioned off in 1763. It was lost to history until it resurfaced in 1900 when it was purchased by a British collector, Francis Cook. When he received it, the painting was badly damaged from restoration attempts. It was eventually sold in 1958 for a little over a hundred dollars, thought to be a poor copy of the original from its poor condition. In 2005 the piece was bought by a group of art dealers for $10,000. It was then restored properly and authenticated as a work of da Vinci.
The Salvator Mundi was sold to a private buyer who, at least for now, wishes to remain anonymous.