A 500-year-old work of art - believed to be by Leonardo da Vinci and depicting Jesus Christ - sold in NY for Dollars 450.3 million, smashing a new art auction record, Christie's said.
"The "Salvator Mundi" is the Holy Grail of Old Master paintings", said Alan Wintermute, Christie's Senior Specialist of Old Master Paintings.
Previously, the highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction had been $179.4 million for Picasso's "Women of Algiers (Version O)" in May 2015.
"Salvator Mundi" was purchased by an unidentified buyer bidding via telephone after a protracted bidding war that stretched to almost 20 minutes at the NY auction house.
The value of private sales are rarely known, but a Willem de Kooning and a Gauguin were previously thought the most expensive, sold in 2015 separately for $300 million each, according to U.S. media reports.
People in the auction house gallery applauded and cheered when the bidding reached $300 million and when the hammer came down on the final bid, $400 million. The bidding opened at $75 million and ran for 19 minutes.
He has one hand raised in blessing while the other holds a crystal orb.
The artwork has been the subject of legal disputes and amassed a price history that ranges from less than $10,000 in 2005, when it was spotted at an estate auction, to $200 million when it was first offered for sale by a consortium in 2012.
Its path from Leonardo's workshop to the auction block at Christie's was not smooth. Very little is known of what happened to the painting until it resurfaced in 1900, when purchased by British collector, Francis Cook, 1st Viscount of Monserrate. "Leonardo inspired generations and continues to inspire today", said Francois de Poortere, head of the Old Masters department at Christie's.
The painting was sold Wednesday by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who bought it in 2013 for $127.5 million in a private sale.
The masterpiece sold at a Christie's auction for $60 in 1958, before finally being identified as da Vinci's work in 2011. The art dealers restored the painting and documented its authenticity as a work by Leonardo. Da Vinci was born in the Republic of Florence, in present-day Italy, in 1452 and died in France in 1519.
The work was exhibited at The National Gallery in London in 2011, after years of research trying to document its authenticity after it was found, mistaken for a copy, in a U.S. auction in 2005.
Visitors wait outside Christie's to view Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi", Nov. 14, 2017, in NY.
Svetla Nikolova, who's from Bulgaria but lives in NY, called the painting "spectacular".
Christie's says it belonged to Charles I, after possibly being made for the French royal family and taken to England by Queen Henrietta Maria when she married the English monarch in 1625. "It should be seen. I'm so lucky to be in NY at this time".