Rediscovered Leonardo da Vinci painting expected to fetch $100M

Rediscovered Leonardo da Vinci painting expected to fetch $100M

The masterwork's provenance can be traced back to the 16th century during the height of da Vinci's career, and is said to have been painted around the same time as the Mona Lisa.

Fewer than 20 authentic original paintings by Renaissance master Leonardo Da Vinci are known to exist in the modern world.

"This is truly the Holy Grail of art rediscoveries", said Alan Wintermute, Christie's senior specialist for Old Master paintings, as cited by Reuters.

A Christie's spokeswoman explained the auction house's considerably lower estimate via email. So it was a thrilling rediscovery, and I think people felt that it appeared like a bolt from the blue.

It disappeared again for almost half a century; it was believed that the work had been destroyed until it was rediscovered in 2005.

According to Christie's, the painting is known to have been in the royal collection of King Charles I of England (1600-1649) and is thought to have hung in the private chambers of his wife, Henrietta Maria. Charles left enormous debts that had to be repaid, so parliament made a decision to sell off his collections. It was later in the collection of their son, Charles II.

The painting was only shown to the media for two hours this morning before it sets off for a global tour with public exhibitions in Hong Kong, San Francisco, London, and, finally, NY before the auction. And for a cool (estimated) $100 million, someone can snag it for the ultimate statement wall piece.

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The painting was produced the year before the artist's death and was described by Christie's chairman of Post-War and Contemporary Art in New York Alex Rotter as "the unequivocal masterpiece from Warhol's late period". After that, the painting reappeared only in 1900, when it was purchased by Francis Cook, a British collector.

Next, the painting was auctioned in 1958 for 45 pounds after which it disappeared once again for almost 50 years, emerging only in 2005.

The laborious-at times terrifying-six-year restoration process was led by Modestini, a renowned conservator and professor at New York University.

The piece, tilted Salvator Mundi, depicts a haunting, half-length image of Christ as Savior of the World, cupping a crystal orb in his left hand with his right raised in benediction.

"Salvator Mundi is a painting of the most iconic figure in the world by the most important artist of all time", said Loic Gouzer, Chairman, Post-War and Contemporary Art at Christies in NY. "This is typically a work that's priceless". "And, as you know, at Christie's we like to push boundaries".

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

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