“Salvator Mundi is a painting of the most iconic figure in the world by the most important artist of all time”, Loic Gouzer, chairman of Post-War and Contemporary Art for Christie’s NY, said in a statement released by the auction house. The painting originally hung in the collection of King Charles I and depicts a beatific Jesus Christ, clad in lapis lazuli robes and holding a glassine orb, one hand extended skyward; it bears a certain compositional likeness to the Mona Lisa, and was painted around the same time.
When asked whether Salvator Mundi’s involvement in complaints filed across the world would affect its sale, or at least the optics of it, Christie’s postwar and contemporary chairman, Loic Gouzer, who secured the work, said, “We can not comment about sellers, but it has every passport, every visa”.
There are only about 15 Leonardo da Vinci paintings known to be in existence, according to the Times. After the work was restored, it was authenticated as a work by the man himself-a miraculous find-and it received its formal coronation when it was unveiled to the public at the National Gallery in London in 2011.
The auction house did not identify the seller, a European private collector who acquired the work after its rediscovery in 2005 and lengthy restoration.
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. Long-known to have existed, and long-sought after, it seemed just a tantalizingly unobtainable dream until now. “To see a fully finished, late masterpiece by Leonardo, made at the peak of his genius, appear for sale in 2017 is as close as I’ve come to an art world miracle“. I can hardly convey how exciting it is for those of us directly involved in its sale.
Francois de Poortere, Head of Old Master Paintings, added: “It is an honor to be entrusted with the sale of this mystical masterpiece”.
Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World) was, and is, enormously significant because of its rarity.
“Salvator Mundi” will be sold at Christie’s in NY at its November 15 sale of post-war and contemporary art following public exhibitions in Hong Kong, London and San Francisco.
In addition to what many call the “male Mona Lisa“, the auction will include a stunning Andy Warhol work – the 32-foot Sixty Last Suppers. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and expertise, as well as global glamour. Bids are expected to top $100 million.
Although the Leonardo would typically be placed among old masters, Christie’s said it belonged in a contemporary sale.