Christie's to Offer the Last Leonardo da Vinci Painting in Private Hands

Carla Harmon
October 11, 2017

While Da Vinci may be one of the most famous classical artists in history, his paintings we know of today are actually few and far between: fewer than 20 can be traced with certainty back to the Renaissance master.

The work was revealed this morning at a flashy press conference at Christie's NY headquarters at Rockefeller Center, where two doors slid open to reveal the gleaming portrait of Jesus Christ, the members of the press jostling to get pictures on their phones.

Early in 2017, Christie's sold a number of modern works from Rybolovlev's collection including the Paul Gauguin landscape Te Fare (La Maison) that fetched £20.3m including premium.

Alan Wintermute, Senior Specialist, Old Master Paintings at Christie's commented: "The Salvator Mundi is the Holy Grail of old master paintings".

"A guy like Da Vinci doesn't get old", said Loic Gouzer, Christie's chairman of postwar and contemporary art in NY.

Christie's will present for sale this fall the greatest artistic rediscovery of the 21st century: Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi.

Andy Warhol's 'Sixty Last Suppers, ' one of the pop artist's last pieces before his death in 1987, is to be sold at the same auction and is expected to fetch $50 million.

The painting originally hung in the collection of King Charles I, according to Vogue. Salvator Mundi is next recorded in a 1763 sale by Charles Herbert Sheffield, the illegitimate son of the Duke of Buckingham, who put it into auction following the sale of what is now Buckingham Palace to the king.

Christie's NY will be open to the public on November 4, when Salvatore Mundi will be on display.

"It has been more than a century since the last such painting turned up and this opportunity will not come again in our lifetime".

It went into the Cook Collection at Doughty House in Richmond, southwest London, and remained there until the collection was dispersed.

It was later sold to an American collector by Sotheby's auction house in 1958 before being auctioned off again in 2005. Its rediscovery was followed by six years of painstaking research and inquiry to document its authenticity with the world's leading authorities on the works and career of da Vinci. "I can hardly convey how exciting it is for those of us directly involved in its sale", remarked Wintermute.

Despite being half a millennium old, it's being sold in the contemporary sale to complement the auction's other blockbuster lot: Andy Warhol's Sixty Last Suppers (1986), a Warhol painting of Leonardo's masterpiece silkscreened 60 times so that it stretches to the same massive size as the original.

The picture is understood to have been sold privately in an $80m deal brokered by Sotheby's in 2013. "Many paintings are described as a tour-de-force-this is Warhol's".

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