Salvator Mundi was one of the greatest artistic discoveries of the twenty-first century, but how much did it sell for?
The Salvator Mundi, the last unrecovered painting of Leonardo da Vinci, sold at auction for $450 million. It broke records, taking pride of place as the most valuable painting ever auctioned. It was purchased by a Saudi Arabian prince in 2017 and disappeared from record shortly after.
Read on to learn more about this massively valuable painting by the master, da Vinci.
The Salvator Mundi has one of the most talked-about histories in the artistic world. It was the last masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci and was thought lost to the ages.
After da Vinci had painted the Salvator Mundi some five hundred years ago, it disappeared without a trace. It became iconic, not for its existence, but for how many copies of it were made.
It reportedly became the most copied painting in history, with many artists attempting to replicate it. The majority of these attempts were handled by students of da Vinci himself.
While they might be just as old, they aren’t as impressive as da Vinci’s work. As with most pieces of art, it’s the name that makes the difference, and there’s no bigger name than Leonardo da Vinci.
It was common knowledge that the painting had existed, but nobody knew where it had disappeared to. However, at an art auction in 2005, the legendary painting suddenly resurfaced.
In New Orleans, Louisiana, an art auction was taking place. Among the lots present was a listing for the Salvator Mundi, by Leonardo da Vinci.
Of course, nobody believed it was the real thing, but it was a fairly substantial replica. It was reportedly quite damaged, but that wasn’t an issue for the man destined to purchase it.
Alexander Parish had a keen eye for a masterpiece, having worked in the art industry for decades. His role was that of a ‘picker’, tasked with identifying potentially valuable art at auctions and purchasing it to turn a profit.
In an article in 2019, he explained, “A major part of what I do is educated gambling.” He highlighted the fact that picking relied mostly on instincts, and gut feelings.
He had such a feeling with this Salvator Mundi and secured the highest bid, at just one thousand dollars.
Within a few years, it would be worth almost half a billion dollars.
Over the next few years, Parish worked with experts to restore the painting. They’d compiled a series of reports and investigations, and suspected that this might just be the long-lost Salvator Mundi.
It had been on a seriously long journey to reach the clutches of Alexander Parish. After disappearing from Italy in the 16th century, it popped up again a century later in England.
After another century, the painting was sold off to pay a debt. It’s at this point that history becomes skewed and muddy.
In 2010, the painting was displayed proudly in the National Gallery, listed as a da Vinci original. It was a sellout unveiling, with art fans flocking from all around the world.
Ultimately, the Salvator Mundi was to be sold from Parish’s possession. Although, no museums or galleries could produce the cash needed to secure it.
In 2013, the sale was settled, and Parish waved goodbye to the da Vinci for a bid of $127 million. It was sold to a Russian oligarch, a super-rich baron.
However, that wasn’t the end of the road for the Salvator Mundi. In 2017 it was auctioned again, but this time it sold for almost half a billion dollars – $450 million to be precise.
It left the possession of the Russian oligarch, having been privately purchased by a Saudi Arabian prince.
Within just two years, the painting would have once again disappeared. It was scheduled to be displayed in the Louvre gallery in Abu Dhabi, but this never materialized.
Of course, it was purchased privately, meaning the owner could do with it as they pleased. It was the last da Vinci to be privately owned, and the last to be found.
There will likely never again be a discovery of this magnitude in the art world. The Salvator Mundi broke records, shook the industry, and made international headlines.
It just goes to show the sheer power behind the history and the hand of Leonardo da Vinci.