Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

Rare Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece will go on auction in November

Rare Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece will go on auction in November

The painting is expected to fetch up to $100 million at the auction.

The painting remained in the family until 1763, when it was sold by Charles Herbert Sheffield-the illegitimate son of the Duke of Buckingham-who put it up for auction following the sale of what is now Buckingham Palace to the king.

News of the painting's existence emerged in 2011 when it was included in the National Gallery's blockbuster Leonardo exhibition.

Excitement and anticipation filled the air this morning at Christie's NY as select members of the press gathered in a private gallery to witness the auction houses' first unveiling of a mysterious, unprecedented masterpiece.

In the early 2000s, the work was owned by a consortium of dealers including Warren Adelson, president of Adelson Galleries, and dealers Alexander Parish and Robert Simon, after Parish picked up a canvas at an estate sale that he believed to be a Leonardo copy. The Salvator Mundi, which happens to be a portrait of Jesus in the same dark, impassive style as the infamous Mona Lisa, is also the only known of those oil works to be held in private hands. That was the last-known activity of the painting until 1900, when it was acquired by Sir Charles Robinson for the Cook Collection in Doughty House, Richmond.

The painting next appeared at a Sotheby's auction in 1958, where it sold for £45. Alas, when the doors seperated, the crowd of onlookers gasped as they witnessed a work by Leonardo da Vinci.

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The painting didn't surface again for almost 50 years, until it was purchased from an American estate at a small regional auction house in 2005.

Being able to partner an Old Master painting with Warhol's "Sixty Last Suppers" appealed to the Da Vinci seller, according to Christie's.

"It has been more than a century since the last such painting turned up and this opportunity will not come again in our lifetime". "I can hardly convey how exciting it is for those of us directly involved in its sale", remarked Wintermute.

Since its discovery, it has been through more twists and turns with, at one point, Dallas Museum aggressively raising money to buy the painting to help make the city an "arts destination".

The picture is understood to have been sold privately in an $80m deal brokered by Sotheby's in 2013. Fewer than 20 paintings by the founding father of the High Renaissance style are known to exist in the world, and all of them are in public collections- except for the one displayed today in NY.

But first, it will join a Last-Supper-themed Andy Warhol work on a global tour, so even those of us without $100 million burning a hole in our pocket might catch a glimpse of the masterpiece at long last. Now, the painting will be hung for the public to see once again before it is auctioned off by Christie's. It comes with an estimate of $50m.

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