Stunning price for da Vinci has raised concerns among some art experts

Nov 17, 2017, 00:40
Stunning price for da Vinci has raised concerns among some art experts

The inclusion of Salvator Mundi in the National Gallery's landmark 2011-12 exhibition of Leonardo's surviving paintings - the most complete display of such works ever held - sealed its acceptance as a fully autograph work by Leonardo da Vinci.

It beat a record set in May 2015 by Pablo Picasso's Les Femmes D'Alger, which sold for US$179.4 million.

Christie's has exhibited the painting in Hong Kong, San Francisco, London and NY in the weeks prior to Wednesday's sale.

Mukti Khaire, a Cornell University professor who is an expert in the art business, said one of the messages of the da Vinci sale was "the extent to which art is a "business" (note that Christie's purportedly used ads and other marketing practices to increase awareness of the work) and, by extension. that systematically studying markets for art and other cultural goods (books, films, music, etc.) through a business and entrepreneurship lens can yield new insights". "The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the market is an honor that comes around once in a lifetime".

Members of the public - indeed, even many cognoscenti - cared little if at all whether the painting might have been executed in part by studio assistants; whether Leonardo had actually made the work himself; or how much of the canvas had been repainted and restored.

"Leonardo was an unparalleled creative force and a master of the enigmatic".

Lost for years only to resurface at a regional auction in 2005, it is one of fewer than 20 Da Vinci paintings generally accepted as being from the Renaissance master's own hand, according to Christie's.

Stunning price for da Vinci has raised concerns among some art experts

The iconic painting will live on infamy as the most expensive work of art sold at auction. "No one will ever be able to fully grasp the wonder of Leonardo's paintings, just as no one will ever be able to fully know the origins of the universe." .

The work, dating from about 1500, was first recorded in the Royal collection of Kings Charles I and Charles II.

Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" painting. The painting constituted more than half of Wednesday's sales total of US$785.9 million, which came in well above the roughly US$450 million pre-sale estimate.

The provenance of "Salvator Mundi" is largely shrouded in mystery, however.

"Salvator Mundi" was attributed to Leonardo after six years of restoration and research, becoming the first discovery of a painting by the Renaissance master since 1909, according to Christie's. Long-known to have existed, and long-sought after, it seemed just a tantalizingly unobtainable dream until now.

"It's been called 'the male Mona Lisa, '" he said, "but it doesn't look like it at all".

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