“Salvator Mundi is a painting of the most iconic figure in the world by the most important artist of all time.” –Loic Gouzer, Chairman, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Christie’s, New York
Christie’s held an unveiling Thursday morning revealing two blockbuster consignments for its upcoming November contemporary evening sale; a massive 60-panel Andy Warhol Last Supper painting with an estimate of $50 million. Also, Leonardo da Vinci‘s stunning and last known masterpiece, Salvator Mundi, which carries an eye-popping estimate of $100 million, which might be easily smashed, considering it dates from around 1500 and is one of fewer than 20 known works by the artist, and reportedly the last in private hands. It was first recorded in the collection of King Charles (1600-1649), passed through an auction in 1763 and rediscovered in 2005. In 2011, it was exhibited at the National Gallery in London.
The da Vinci has been consigned by the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, a representative for the family’s trust. He bought the work in 2013 for a reported $127.5 million. (Christie’s has stated only that the work comes from a private European collection.)
Explaining why the Leonardo was auctioned alongside the Warhol in the contemporary sale, Gouzer said it reflects the “dialogue between these two artists” as well as Christie’s propensity for pushing boundaries and “disrupting” sale categories.
The painting was long thought to be a work by a follower of Leonardo and was sold at Sotheby’s London in 1958 for only $75. It has been vetted by the Metropolitan Museum of Artand deemed authentic.
Since it resurfaced, Salvator Mundi has been involved in several overlapping and complicated legal battles. The work incited a long-running fight between Rybolovlev and his former art advisor Yves Bouvier, who bought the work in 2013 in a sale brokered by Sotheby’s for “between $75 million and $80 million,” according to the New York Times. Bouvier then flipped it to Rybolovlev for far more than he paid.
The Leonardo was on display for just two hours at Christie’s before it began a worldwide tour, including Hong Kong, San Francisco, and London, before it returns to New York for the November 15 evening sale.
For the record Les Femmes d’Alger by Pablo Picasso was sold at Christie’s in New York for $181.2 on May 11, 2015, making it the most ever paid at auction. But Interchange by Willem de Kooning (also painted in 1955)was sold privately by David Geffen in September of 2015 for a reported $300 million.
(Photos, Christie’s; via ArtNet)