A painting by the Italian painter Leonardo da Vinci was auctioned Wednesday 450.3 million dollars at auctions at Christie’s in New York, breaking the record for the most expensive painting in the world.
At the end of a disheveled sequence of 19 minutes, “Salvator Mundi”, last painting of the master still in possession of a private collector, left far behind “The Women of Algiers (version 0)”, by Pablo Picasso, sold $ 179.4 million in 2015.
The auction house estimated the value of this 65 cm x 45 cm canvas at $ 100 million, sold for only 45 pounds in 1958, long before it was recognized as an authentic “Leonardo”. 2005.
The painting was until now owned by Russian billionaire Dmitri Rybolovlev, an exiled oligarch who chairs the AS Monaco football club.
He would have acquired 127.5 million dollars from the Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier, who had bought himself shortly before for $ 80 million.
Since then, Rybolovlev and Bouvier are engaged in a legal battle, the billionaire accusing the art dealer of having taken exorbitant margins on the tables it gave him.
Wednesday, in a white-hot auction hall, auctions for “Salvator Mundi” started at $ 70 million, and then went up no less than 53 steps up to $ 400 million, to $ 450.3 million with commissions, fees and taxes.
Mid-way, as often, the case was a duel between two anonymous buyers, who placed their orders over the phone, through Christie’s sellers.
At 200 million, a clamor rose from the public, visibly composed of many visitors unaccustomed to the muffled atmosphere of sales.
The final hammer kick triggered a thunderous applause and exclamation.