Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of Christ was sold for $450 million at an art auction at Christie’s in New York. It was more than double the price of any art object ever sold.
The painting, Salvator Mundi, is one of the rare masterpieces of the Renaissance painter. Created at around 1500 it is one of 20 da Vinci paintings still in private possession.
Salvator Mundi was once owned by King Charles I of England in the middle of the 17th century. The painting was believed to have been destroyed until it resurfaced in 1900. In England, it was sold for a mere $125 because art experts at the time thought it was a worthless copy, either done by one of da Vinci’s followers or students. Even today, the painting’s authenticity is still in doubt.
After being restored several times, a Russian billionaire bought the painting in 2013. The new owner intends to remain anonymous.
The oil painting shows the upper body of Jesus Christ as the world’s saviour. In one hand he holds a glass sphere in, while the other hand is raised in blessing.
Currently, there is only one da Vinci in the United States. Ginevra de’ Benci can be observed in public at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
- anonymous = not known by name
- auction = a public meeting where paintings and other things are sold to the person who offers the most money
- authenticity = the quality of being real or true
- billionaire = person who has one thousand million dollars, euros etc..
- in blessing = with the help or protection from God
- century = a hundred years
- Christie’s = famous auction house in New York
- currently = now, at the moment
- destroy = to damage completely so that you no longer can use it
- in doubt = here: it may not be real
- in public = where everyone can see it
- intend = want to be
- masterpiece = a work of art that is of very high quality or the best of a famous artist
- mere = only
- observe = see something
- own = possess; if something belongs to you
- possession = something that belongs to you
- raise = hold up
- rare = not found very often
- Renaissance = period of time in Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries, when art, literature and scientific ideas became very important
- restore = repair, so that it appears like it once was
- resurface = to appear again after being lost or missing for some time
- saviour = a person who saves someone in a dangerous situation – here: Jesus Christ
- sphere = shape of a ball
- worthless = without any value , cheap