A damaged copy of Salvator Mundi, a painting attributed by some to Leonardo da Vinci, became a surprise hit this week during an online Christie’s sale, where it sold for over $1 million.
The exact author and date of the painting are not known, although Christie’s billed it as being by the Italian School and said it was done around 1600. Referring to its style, the house labeled the work as being “after Leonardo da Vinci.”
The attribution of Salvator Mundi, the most expensive work sold at auction, is widely contested. Christie’s, which had advertised that work as a true da Vinci, auctioned the painting in 2017.
It was bought that year by the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The painting’s whereabouts are currently unknown.
The copy of Salvator Mundi that came up for auction at Christie’s seemed unremarkable in many ways. A condition report noted that the piece had “losses” that are visible, with areas of paint that are clearly no longer there. The painting was also sold frameless.
Perhaps this accounted for why Christie’s gave it a high estimate of less than $16,000. But, as online bidding went on this month, the piece shot far beyond that value. It wound up selling for $1.11 million, attesting to the grip that Salvator Mundi continues to hold on many across the globe.