Salvator Mundi, the long-lost Leonardo da Vinci painting of Jesus Christ commissioned by King Louis XII of France more than 500 years ago, has sold at Christie’s in New York for $450.3m, shattering the world record for any work of art sold at auction.
The sale generated a sustained 20 minutes of tense telephone bidding as the auctioneer Jussi Pylkkänen juggled rival suitors.
At one point, Pylkkänen remarked: “Historic moment, we’ll wait” as the the bidding went back and forth, pausing at just over $200m as it rose to break the auction record.
At one point, a telephone bidder jumped in, pushing the price from $332m to $350m. The bidding then resumed: $353m, $355m. A jump to $370. A jump to $400m.
“They reflected the importance of the painting and that some of the bidders were conscious that the price would go higher than their bids. Probably, they knew there was room before the end of the competition,” said Christie’s CEO, Guillaume Cerutti
“They wanted to get the job done quicker, but it still took a long time,” He added.