Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, “Saviour of the World,” sold for $450,312,500 Wednesday at auction, Christie’s said. The price, which includes a buyer’s premium, makes it “the most expensive painting ever sold at auction,” the auction house said in a statement.
The previous record for the most expensive painting sold at auction was $179,364,992 for Picasso’s “Les Femmes d’Alger” (“Women of Algiers”), according to Christie’s. The highest price previously paid at auction for a da Vinci was in 2001 for his “Horse and Rider,” a work on paper, which went for $11,481,865.
The bidding for “Saviour of the World,” (“Salvator Mundi“), coordinated out of Christie’s New York office, lasted a little less than 20 minutes, with four and then just two final bidders battling it out. The bidding, which was live-streamed, moved rapidly, from the price guaranteed by Christie’s of $100 million to about $330 million before long pauses set in, as many bidders dropped out.
“Three thirty is bid and selling,” said auctioneer, Jussi Pylkkänen, Christie’s global president.
“Looking for another bid please,” he said. Noticing the continued phone chatter of auction representatives with their clients, he stopped briefly.
“The conversation continues. So we will pause.”
At about $370 million there appeared to be only two remaining bidders on the other end of the phone lines. Each were represented by Christie’s specialists, Francois de Poortere and Alex Rotter.
“Back to Francois’ clients at $370 million,” said Pylkkänen, as the room grew quiet
Then came $400 million bid.
“Francois is out,” said Pylkkänen. “Are you sure, Francois?”
He then turned to Rotter.
“It is with Alex Rotter at $400 . . . and the piece is sold,” said the auctioneer, to great applause.
With the buyer’s premium, an extra fee tacked on by auction houses, the final tally came to $450,312,500.
The identity of the winning bidder was not known.
“It is every auctioneer’s ambition to sell a Leonardo and likely the only chance I will ever have,” said Pylkkänen. “It’s the pinnacle of my career so far.”
The price made the other lots sold Wednesday night look paltry: A Warhol for more than $60 million; a Rothko for a mere $32.3 million. But there are plenty of Andy Warhol paintings and plenty of works by Mark Rothko.