Tuesday, 17 July, 2018

Christie's to Auction 'Holy Grail' of da Vinci Paintings for $100 Million

Christie's to Auction 'Holy Grail' of da Vinci Paintings for $100 Million Christie's to Auction 'Holy Grail' of da Vinci Paintings for $100 Million
Stacy Diaz | 11 October, 2017, 05:39

While Da Vinci may be one of the most famous classical artists in history, his paintings we know of today are actually few and far between: fewer than 20 can be traced with certainty back to the Renaissance master.

"You have to understand there are only about 15 known paintings of da Vinci's in existence", says Loic Gouzer, cochair of postwar and contemporary art in NY, adding, "It is the only one left in private hands".

Many have dubbed the evocative work "the male Mona Lisa", because of its similarities to the iconic painting, according to Francois de Poortere, head of Old Master Paintings at Christie's.

As the possibility of Leonardo's authorship emerged, the painting was shown to scholars in the autumn of 2007, including Mina Gregori of the University of Florence, Nicholas Penny, director of the National Gallery, and curators at the Metropolitan Museum in NY.

"The Salvator Mundi is the Holy Grail of Old Masters painting", said Alan Wintermute, senior specialist of Old Master Paintings at Christie's.

"A guy like Da Vinci doesn't get old", said Loic Gouzer, Christie's chairman of postwar and contemporary art in NY.

Sold at Sotheby's to an American collector in 1958 for 45 pounds, it again sold in 2005 as an overpainted copy of the masterwork, he said. Christie's called the painting the "biggest discovery of the 21st century" and "a bigger deal than discovering a new planet". Salvatore Mundi is the last one in private hands.

The painting was first recorded in the Royal collection of King Charles I (1600-1649), and thought to have hung in the private chambers of Henrietta Maria - the wife of King Charles I - in her palace in Greenwich, and was later in the collection of Charles II.

It went into the Cook Collection at Doughty House in Richmond, southwest London, and remained there until the collection was dispersed. It disappeared once again for almost 50 years, emerging in 2005 when it was purchased from an American estate at a small regional auction house.

Salvator Mundi is unveiled at Christie's in NY. Years of painstaking research and a quest for authenticity held the work away from the public eye until it was publicly unveiled at The National Gallery in London in 2011. "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", remarked Wintermute.

Courtesy Christie's Andy Warhol's "Sixty Last Suppers".

The picture is understood to have been sold privately in an $80m deal brokered by Sotheby's in 2013. Now, Christie's auction house will take the painting on tour. The artist made more than 100 different Last Supper works, some freehand, some showing outlines, others in silkscreen.