Leonardo da Vinci is, of course, one of the most famous figures in art history, best known and celebrated for painting the famed Mona Lisa.
The work was revealed this morning at a flashy press conference at Christie's NY headquarters at Rockefeller Center, where two doors slid open to reveal the gleaming portrait of Jesus Christ, the members of the press jostling to get pictures on their phones.
The work had been painted over, according to Vogue.
"It was only when they began to clean it, to remove the old layers of years and years of overpaint, that you could see the great touch of the original Leonardo coming forward".
"This is truly the Holy Grail of art rediscoveries", said Alan Wintermute, Christie's senior specialist for Old Master paintings, as cited by Reuters.
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Explaining why it will be offered in a Contemporary art sale, Christie's chairman of Post-War and Contemporary Art in New York Loic Gouzer said: "Despite being created approximately 500 years ago, the work of Leonardo is just as influential to the art that is being created today as it was in the 15th and 16th centuries". (At that time, it was thought that the artist wasn't Leonardo da Vinci but was one of his followers, Bernardino Luini.) It's also rare because it's only one of less than 20 paintings that are known to exist by da Vinci. Christie's called the painting the "biggest discovery of the 21st century" and "a bigger deal than discovering a new planet". Salvator Mundi is next recorded in a 1763 sale by Charles Herbert Sheffield, the illegitimate son of the Duke of Buckingham, who put it into auction following the sale of what is now Buckingham Palace to the king.
Salvator Mundi is unveiled at Christie's in NY. The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the market is an honor that comes around once in a lifetime.
Salvator Mundi, an ethereal portrait of Jesus Christ which dates to about 1500, is expected to sell for about US$100 million (RM421.9 million) at Christie's in November, making it among the most highly-valued works ever to be sold at auction.
It was later sold to an American collector by Sotheby's auction house in 1958 before being auctioned off again in 2005. Years of painstaking research and a quest for authenticity held the work away from the public eye until it was publicly unveiled at The National Gallery in London in 2011. Now, the painting will be hung for the public to see once again before it is auctioned off by Christie's. "I can hardly convey how exciting it is for those of us directly involved in its sale", remarked Wintermute.
Christie's will also sell the final silk-screen by Andy Warhol at the same auction. The artist made more than 100 different Last Supper works, some freehand, some showing outlines, others in silkscreen.