After a 20-minute bidding war Wednesday night, Leonardo da Vinci's painting of Jesus Christ, "Salvator Mundi," sold at Christie's in New York City for $450 million, making it the most expensive piece of art to ever sell at auction.
The painting was commissioned by France's King Louis XII more than 500 years ago, and was presumed lost until early this century; in 2005, an art dealer purchased "Salvator Mundi" at an estate sale in the United States, and had it restored, authenticated, then unveiled at London's National Gallery in 2011. The buyer had not yet been identified.
The sale was the talk of the art world, since finding a new piece by da Vinci "is rarer than finding a new planet," Christie's Loic Gouzer said. "Salvator Mundi" soared past previous record-holders, including Pablo Picasso's 1955 "Women of Algiers (Version O)," which fetched $179.4 million at auction, and Amedo Modigliani's 1917-18 "Reclining Nude," which sold for $170.4 million.