In the 2010s, personal branding is a way of life. If the astronomical sum paid out for Salvator Mundi is any indication, Leonardo da Vinci’s brand remains as strong as ever.
da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, a recently attributed painting of Jesus Christ crafted for Louis XII of France, sparked a bidding war at Christie’s on Wednesday with the winning bid coming in at $450.3 million with fees. The New York Times reports that gasps were frequent as the total for the painting kept escalating. Salvator Mundi‘s final price tag shattered previous art auction records and dwarfs the previous record holder Pablo Picasso’s Women of Algiers sale for $179.4 two years previous.
Russian art collector and businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev cosigned the piece to Christie’s, although there’s some controversy in the art world about the painting and the monetary value placed upon it. Evaluations of the Salvator Mundi aren’t quite at the level you might expect for a da Vinci work There have been questions about the piece’s authenticity and it’s part of a legal battle Rybolovlev is engaged in with his former art advisor Yves Bouvier.
Controversy aside, the winning bidder is clearly interested in owning the piece which is hailed by its champions as a colossal 21st century discovery. The piece is the only da Vinci painting believed to be private hands in 2017.
“The work of Leonardo is just as influential to the art that is being created today as it was in the 15th and 16th centuries,” said Christie’s postwar and contemporary chairman Loic Gouzer on auctioning off the piece. “We felt that offering this painting within the context of our postwar and contemporary evening sale is a testament to the enduring relevance of this picture.”
If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to sit and have an extended stare at the $2 California Raisins poster on my wall.