New absolute record for works of art: "Salvator Mundi" sold for $ 450 million
NEW YORK. The story unfolded before our eyes in the halls of the Christie’s auction on Wednesday evening, when Salvator Mundi (circa 1500), considered the last work of Leonardo da Vinci in private hands, was sold for $ 450 million, making it the most expensive transaction on the art market for all time. He was bought by the client by phone at the auction after a 19-minute session in which five participants participated, four remotely and one was present in person in the hall.
This amount is 150 million dollars more than what was considered the previous record sale when Kenneth Griffin bought the "Change" of Willem de Kooning (1955) from David Geffen for $ 300 million in 2015. And before that, the record for the work sold at the auction was in Pablo Picasso’s "Women in Algeria (version O)", 1955, which went to Christie’s auction for 179.4 million dollars in May 2015.
This lot accounted for more than half of the total trading volume for the evening, which reached 785.9 million US dollars. "It’s hard to find words after such an evening," says Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cherutti at a press conference held immediately after the sale, where Salvator Mundi was installed in the gallery behind him, "But, of course, this is a perfect moment for all art market ". When asked who got the job, Cherutti was again in difficulty to choose words. "We do not comment on the identity of customers, I’m sorry," he said, adding: "Offers came from all over the world."
There was no doubt that from the very beginning it was an auction, which was watched not only by market players and analysts, but also the world as a whole. Television cameras dotted the area outside the headquarters of Christie’s Rockefeller Center. The show attracted the greatest collectors of art in the world, such as Steve Cohen, Eli Brod, as well as musician Patty Smith and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
Bidding started with works by artists rare for auctions such as Adam Pendleton and Phillip Parreno, who also went much higher than their preliminary high ratings, also recording the records of auctions. In addition to Parreno and Pendleton, and, of course, Leonardo - other artists who achieved the auction records were Vija Selmins, Isamu Noguchi and Kerry James Marshall.
"Saffron" Mark Rothko (1957) was sold for $ 28 million ($ 32.4 million, taking into account the buyer’s premium).
And then the Salvator Mundi came. Auctioneer Jussi Pylkkanen told about the history of possession, incl. that earlier the picture was in the collections of the three kings of England. For the first time the work was sold for only? 45 at Sotheby’s in London in 1958 - then no one believed that it had anything to do with Leonardo. Later, "Salvator Mundi" was considered a copy of the lost Leonardo and in another auction house in 2005 it was sold for less than $ 10,000. Swiss art investor Yves Bouvier later bought it for $ 80 million, when the attribution of the name of the author of the work - Leonardo da Vinci. Last (until yesterday) the owner of this picture, the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev bought it from Yves Bouvier for $ 127.5 million, but quickly realized that he had overpaid several tens of millions and filed a lawsuit against the dealer in court, accusing him of inflated prices for a number of transactions for a total of 1 billion USD.
Bidding started with 70 million and stopped at around 400 million dollars. The buyer will also pay a $ 50 million commission (buyer’s premium).
"We witnessed history," said after the sale of Brett Gorvi, former chairman of Christie’s, who now runs the gallery of Levi Gorvi. "When was the last time?" Rembrandts in the 1950s? Van Gogh in 1990? "He had in mind $ 82.5 million (157.6 million if adjusted for inflation) paid by Japanese business manager Roya Saito for Portrait of George Gachet Van Gogh.
"These auctions set a completely new height for the art market," said dealer Tony Shafrazi. Collector and dealer Helly Nahmad clarifies: "The buyer, whoever he was, would have spent a billion on this picture. They simply did not intend to stop. "
In conversations after the auction, most often in the assumptions about a possible buyer sounded the name of the head of Microsoft Bill Gates. Earlier, he bought a set of scientific letters by Leonardo da Vinci, known as the "Leicester Code" for 30.8 million. It also happened at Christie’s in November 1994.
Now, the last Leonardo, who is in a private collection, will be taken to a place unknown to the public and, probably, will not be available to the public for some time.
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