The Salvator Mundi is the most expensive artwork ever sold painted by Leonardo Da Vinci’s , or “Saviour of the World.” It was painted in the 1500s and was sold in 2017 for $450.3 million. Mohamed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, purchased the painting.
Salvator Mundi painting is a significant and highly celebrated artwork primarily due to its attribution to Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most renowned artists in history.
The most significant factor contributing to the painting’s importance is the belief that it was created by Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci’s paintings are exceptionally rare, with only a small number of authenticated works in existence. The discovery of “Salvator Mundi” added to this limited body of work. The painting showcases Leonardo’s exceptional skill in capturing the human form and his mastery of techniques such as sfumato a subtle blending of colors and tones and chiaroscuro the use of light and shadow.
The subject matter of the painting, a serene Christ as Savior of the World, holds religious and cultural significance. It reflects the artistic and spiritual themes of the Renaissance. The painting provides insights into the artistic and cultural context of the Renaissance period, offering a glimpse into the religious and artistic ideals of the time.
Salvatore Mundi was owned by various collectors and institutions over the centuries, with its provenance often unclear. Salvator Mundi was rediscovered in 2005 when it was purchased at an auction in the United States, despite being in poor condition and heavily overpainted. The painting underwent a lengthy and controversial restoration process that aimed to reveal its original condition and attributes. During this time, it was authenticated as a work of Leonardo da Vinci. c. 2007–2017
Timeline Of Salvatore Mundi Painting:
1478–83 Leonardo may have seen Bartolomeo della Gatta’s Salvator Mundi in Urbino which appears to be the prototype for his Salvator Mundi painting.
1496–98 Leonardo allegedly paints a Christ the Redeemer lunette in the style of a Salvator Mundi format for the Santa Maria delle Grazie tribune in Milan, as part of a 1492 project. It was demolished in 1603 during restorations.
Around 1508 Two red chalk drawings were produced by Leonardo for a Salvator Mundi.
1508–1520s Leonardo’s studio associates paint Salvator Mundi compositions based on Leonardo’s initial sketches, two or three of which — the Cook, Ganay, and Naples versions — possibly with Leonardo’s input. There are around 27 early replicas of Leonardo’s design.
1638–41 In the London mansion of James, 3rd Marquess (later 1st Duke) of Hamilton, a “Christ: with a globe in his hande done by Leonardus Vinsett” is mentioned. This could be one of the 27 Salvator Mundi copies.
1650 The Royalist Wenceslaus Hollar, who was living in exile in Antwerp at the time, makes an etching of a Salvator Mundi that is written (in Latin): “Leonardo painted it,” and Hollar etched it “from the original.” Despite being frequently likened to the Saudi Salvator Mundi, it has a full beard and a moustache.
“A piece of Christ done by Leonardo” from King Charles I and Queen Henrietta’s collection was purchased by Captain John Stone at the Commonwealth sale in 1651.
1660 “Leonard de Vince.” An inventory of King Charles II’s ‘Closet’ shows “O[u]r Savio[u]r w[i]th a gloabe in one hand & holding up ye other.” auctions and others appeared to believe this was the Cook version restored to the King by Stone.
1763 King George III buys Buckingham House, now Buckingham Palace, as well as paintings, including a “Head of Our Saviour” by “L. DA. VINCI” (lot 53).
1900 Sir J. C. Robinson sells a Bernardino Luini-attributed Salvator Mundi for £120 to Sir Francis Cook, a British merchant and collector. This is the earliest known instance of the Cook Salvator Mundi.
1958 It is sold for £45 to “Kuntz” at Sotheby’s London on June 25, credited to Leonardo’s assistant Boltraffio. It was later determined that this was Minnie Stanfill Kuntz or her husband Warren E. Kuntz, who owned a furniture store in New Orleans.
1964 In Raccolta Vinciana, the German academic Ludwig Heydenreich says that there is no evidence that Leonardo finished a Salvator Mundi painting, for which two preparatory drawings by Leonardo exist and 12 variants of the painting by followers exist.
1987 Minnie Stanfill Kuntz leaves it to her nephew, Basil Clovis Hendry Sr., after her death.
April 2005 It is sold for $1,000 plus $175 commission from the estate of Basil Clovis Hendry Sr. in New Orleans to a consortium of art dealers led by Alexander Parish and Robert Simon.
Mr. and Mrs. Mario and Dianne Modestini, old master restorers, begin work on the highly damaged, significantly overpainted panel, repainting much of it.
2008 According to Dianne Modestini, the restoration was finished early that year. Following the exhibition at the National Gallery in 2011, she continued to work on the painting. (Mario Modestini passed away in 2006.)
Martin Kemp, Robert Simon, and Margaret Dalivalle begin work on their 2019 monograph Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi and the Collecting of Leonardo at the Stuart Courts.
2009 Warren Adelson, an American dealer, begins his efforts to sell it, first to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and later to other prominent museums.
July 2011 Robert Simon is the one who initially made the new full attribution to Leonardo known, adding that it had received “general acceptance” from academics like Carmen Bambach, Pietro C. Marani, Maria Teresa Fiorio, David Allen Brown, and Martin Kemp. (The first three of these academics later acknowledged that they had not at that time given the painting a Leonardo signature in its whole.)
Additionally, according to the news announcement, Charles I and Charles II owned this painting. Simon states that the picture “is not on the market,” despite reporting that it is for sale for $200 million. It is the first time in more than a century that a painting by Leonardo has been attributed.
November 2011 The Mundi is one of nine artworks that are exhibited as part of a significant Leonardo exhibition at the National Gallery in London.
February 2012 “Much of the original surface may be by Boltraffio,” Carmen Bambach writes in Apollo Magazine, “but with passages done by Leonardo himself, namely Christ’s proper right blessing hand, portions of the sleeve, his left hand, and the crystal orb he holds.”
May 2013 The Dallas Museum of Art also makes a bid, but is rejected, according to a museum representative. Parish and a consortium sell it to the Swiss dealer Yves Bouvier in a private Sotheby’s sale for $75–80 million.
Bouvier quickly sells it for $127.5 million to Dmitry Rybolovlev, who is believed to hold the artwork in a storage facility at a Geneva freeport until its 2017 sale.
2015 Rybolovlev claims Bouvier defrauded him of over $1 billion over 40 significant art sales, including for the Salvator Mundi, opening the door for other legal actions.
November 15th 2017 The largest estimate ever placed on an Old Master painting, it is being offered at auction New York for in excess of $100m and is guaranteed by a third party, rumored to be Taiwanese businessman Pierre Chen. It sells for $400 million ($450.3 million plus fees) to a phone bidder acting on behalf of the new Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), whose identity is unknown at the time, after a two-way bidding war.
November 20th 2017 Thomas Campbell, the Met’s former CEO, stirs up debate with an Instagram image that depicts the painting before restoration. “450 million dollars?!,” he writes. Hope the buyer is aware of restoration concerns, followed by “#readthesmallprint.”
December 7th 2017 MBS is identified by the Washington Post as the buyer of the Mundi.
January 2021 The Louvre’s 2018 assessment of the Mundi for its popular exhibition and an independent analysis by a computer programmer and art historian both reveal a number of new details about the work. Both analyses indicate that the blessing hand and arm of the figure were not initially intended by the artist. The blessed arm and hand are classified as highly “not Leonardo” in the latter computer-generated interpretation, which goes farther.
April 13th 2021 Release of The Saviour for Sale, a French full-length documentary on the piece. It makes several audacious assertions, one of which is that the Louvre merely acknowledged Leonardo’s “contribution” to the painting rather than accepting it as his own. Two unnamed persons who identify themselves as “French government officials” make these assertions. According to them, Jean-Luc Martinez, the Louvre’s then-director, received these findings in September 2018. They go on to say that when President Macron learned of this, he refused to agree to MBS’s request that the Salvator Mundi be displayed next to the Mona Lisa and identified as a “100% Leonardo,” which is why it was not displayed at the Louvre.
April 20th 2021 Leaked materials from the 2019 pamphlet that was issued but later pulled by the Louvre in advance of its Leonardo blockbuster refute these assertions. “The results of the historical and scientific study… allow us to confirm the attribution of the work to Leonardo da Vinci,” Martinez said in the preface.