Leonardo da Vinci’s Spooky Jesus Portrait ‘Salvator Mundi’ Could Fetch $100 Million at Christie’s

The auction house will sell Warhol's version of the Last Supper as well.

Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi. Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd. 2017.
Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi. Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd., 2017.

It will be a sale of biblical proportions—literally.

Christie’s held an unveiling this morning revealing two blockbuster consignments for its upcoming November contemporary evening sale, a massive 60-panel Andy Warhol Last Supper painting with an estimate in the region of $50 million, alongside a heavyweight counterpart: Leonardo da Vinci‘s stunning and last known masterpiece, Salvator Mundi, which carries an eye-popping estimate of $100 million.

The consignments were announced at the auction house’s Rockefeller Center headquarters this morning with remarks by a host of executives including postwar and contemporary art department co-heads Loïc Gouzer and Alex Rotter, along with Old Master senior specialist Alan Wintermute and Old Master department head Francois de Poortere.

The Leonardo has been consigned by the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, a representative for the family’s trust confirmed to artnet News. He bought the work in 2013 for a reported $127.5 million. (Christie’s has stated only that the work comes from a private European collection.) Both the Leonardo and the Warhol carry third-party guarantees.

Christie's unveils Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi [pictured] with Andy Warhol's on October 10, 2017 in New York City. Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Christie's Auction House.

Christie’s unveils Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi [pictured] with Andy Warhol’s on October 10, 2017 in New York City. Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Christie’s Auction House.

Explaining the decision to place the Leonardo alongside the Warhol in the contemporary sale, Gouzer said it reflects the “dialogue between these two artists” as well as Christie’s propensity for pushing boundaries and “disrupting” sale categories. He has achieved success with recent efforts at creating so-called hybrid sales that combine perhaps surprising offerings of classic blue-chip art along with cutting-edge contemporary works.

Wintermute outlined the storied history of the Leonardo painting during the press conference. Dating from around 1500, it is one of fewer than 20 known works by the artist, and reportedly the last in private hands. It was first recorded in the collection of King Charles (1600-1649), passed through an auction in 1763 and rediscovered in 2005. In 2011, it was exhibited at the National Gallery in London.

The painting was long thought to be a work by a follower of Leonardo and was sold at Sotheby’s London in 1958 for only £45. Wintermute noted it has been vetted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and deemed authentic.

Loic Gouzer [center] speaks as Christie's unveils Leonardo da Vinci's <em>Salvator Mundi</em> with Andy Warhol's <em>Sixty Last Suppers</em> at Christie's New York on October 10, 2017 in New York City. Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Christie's Auction House.

Loic Gouzer [center] speaks as Christie’s unveils Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi with Andy Warhol’s Sixty Last Suppers at Christie’s New York on October 10, 2017 in New York City. Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Christie’s Auction House.

Since it resurfaced, Salvator Mundi has been involved in several complex and overlapping legal battles. Most famously, the work incited a long-running fight between Rybolovlev and his former art advisor Yves Bouvier, who bought the work in 2013 from a three-dealer consortium in a sale brokered by Sotheby’s for “between $75 million and $80 million,” according to New York Times report. Then, Bouvier allegedly flipped it to Rybolovlev for far more than he paid.

“As we are aware now in May 2013, Yves Bouvier acquired the Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci for $80 million,” says the spokesman, adding that the flip added “a grotesque unauthorised margin” of $47.5 million. “Now, the forthcoming auction of this work will finally bring to an end a very painful chapter for the Rybolovlev family.”

The Leonardo was on display for just two hours this morning before Christie’s sends it on a worldwide tour, including to Hong Kong, San Francisco, and London, before it returns to New York for the November 15 evening sale.

Andy Warhol's Sixy Last Suppers (1986). Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd. 2017.

Andy Warhol’s Sixy Last Suppers (1986). Courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd. 2017.


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