Someone is getting the opportunity to own Salvator Mundi, a painting by Leonardo da Vinci that was thought to be long-lost, reports The Washington Post. The painting is going up for auction through Christie’s in New York City and is guaranteed to sell for at least $100 million, so the auction house will make up the difference if it goes for less.
The small painting shows Jesus raising his right hand in blessing and holding a crystal orb. The name is Latin for “Savior of the World,” and it is one of 15 known surviving paintings by da Vinci. The auction house is billing it as “The Last da Vinci,” reports the Post. Da Vinci painted it in the early 1500s, and there are about 20 known copies, but the original was thought to be lost for good. However, it was rediscovered in 2005 and went through a six-year restoration process.
In 2005, New York-based art collector and da Vinci expert Robert Simon and art dealer Alexander Parish found and purchased it for $10,000. Simon did not think it was a real da Vinci, but Dianne Dwyer Modestini, a professor of paintings conservation at New York University, set about carefully restoring the portrait in 2007. After chipping away the varnish and overpaint that had been covering the original, she realized that she was restoring the original. A series of tests proved her idea. In 2011, when it was proven to be a da Vinci, London-based art dealer Charles Beddington told The New York Times that, “It’s the most unimaginable discovery of the last 50 years,” reports The Post.
Not everyone thinks it should be worth $100 million, however.
Charles Hope, an emeritus professor at the Warburg Institute at the University of London, wrote, “Even making allowances for its extremely poor state of preservation, it is a curiously unimpressive composition and it is hard to believe that Leonardo himself was responsible for anything so dull,” according to The Post.
The auction is tonight.
This article was featured in the InsideHook newsletter. Sign up now.