Is this $450 Million da Vinci Even a Real da Vinci?

Russian billionaire explains why he sold Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece

The winning bid for the piece, titled "Salvator Mundi" ("Savior of the World"), was four times Christie's pre-sale estimate and smashed the world record for the most expensive painting ever sold at auction. Even for me, ' he said, 'it is very hard to pinpoint what it is that makes this painting so poignant, you can not comprehend the mystery of Leonardo.

Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi not only became the most expensive work of art in history, but more than doubled the previous auction record.

"'Salvator Mundi' is a painting of the most iconic figure in the world by the most important artist of all time", said Loic Gouzer, co-chairman of post-war and contemporary art at Christie's. The auction house hosted public viewings of the painting for more than 27,000 people in cities around the world before the sale. Standing in front of his paintings, it becomes impossible for one's mind to fully unravel or comprehend the mystery radiating from them - both the "Mona Lisa" and "Salvator Mundi" are ideal examples of this.

Christie's says it belonged to Charles I, after possibly being made for the French royal family and taken to England by Queen Henrietta Maria when she married the English monarch in 1625. The price tag of the classic piece of artwork makes it the highest valued painting in history. Salvator Mundi evokes joy, ecstasy, anger, awe - it just touches every emotion.

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For years it was presumed to have been destroyed, emerging only in 2005 when it was purchased from a U.S. estate.

Alan Wintermute, Senior Specialist, Old Master Paintings at Christie's commented: "The Salvator Mundi is the Holy Grail of old master paintings".

Christie's said most scholars agree the painting is by Leonardo, though some critics have questioned the attribution and some say the extensive restoration muddies the work's authorship. It was dubbed "the greatest artistic rediscovery of the 21st century".

The "excitement" for Leonardo's work has been "overwhelming".

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"My hands were shaking", Modestini said in a statement released through Christie's in October. The highest known sale price for any artwork had been $300 million, for Willem de Kooning's painting "Interchange", sold privately in September 2015 by the David Geffen Foundation to hedge fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin.

Visitors wait outside Christie's to view Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi", Nov. 14, 2017, in NY.

The price paid for the painting was a record for any work of art sold at auction. "The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the market is an honor that comes around once in a lifetime".

It has been guaranteed by a backer to sell for at least $100 million (85 million euros). Long-known to have existed, and long-sought after, it seemed just a tantalizingly unobtainable dream until now.

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