A 500-year-old masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci that once sold for a mere $60 smashed the world’s record for an art auction Wednesday.
“Salvator Mundi,” which depicts Christ raising his hand in a blessing, sold for $450 million at Christie’s Auction House in New York.
The buyer who was not identified, made his bid by telephone, sending the audience into a frenzy as the price climbed higher and higher.
The seller is Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev.
Only about 20 da Vinci works are known to exist and “Salvator Mundi” is the only one in private hands. The others are in museums or part of large public collections.
Art experts believe da Vinci painted “Salvator Mundi” in about 1500. It was once owned by England’s King Charles I. It disappeared, resurfaced, and, at one time, was bought for just $60 by a collector who mistook it for a copy.
It took more than 50 years for art experts to restore it and authenticate it as a genuine da Vinci, although others still doubt it is the real thing.
Until Wednesday, the highest price paid for a painting at auction was $179 million for Pablo Picasso’s “The Women of Algiers” in 2015.