- Picture courtesy of Christie's NY via ReutersNEW YORK, Oct 11 - The last privately owned Leonardo da Vinci painting and one of fewer than 20 by the Renaissance artist known to still exist is hitting the auction block, Christie's announced yesterday.
Two paintings by art icons could fetch $150 million in a NY auction next month.
The work had been painted over, according to Vogue.
In the early 2000s, the work was owned by a consortium of dealers including Warren Adelson, president of Adelson Galleries, and dealers Alexander Parish and Robert Simon, after Parish picked up a canvas at an estate sale that he believed to be a Leonardo copy.
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"This is truly the Holy Grail of art rediscoveries", said Alan Wintermute, Christie's senior specialist for Old Master paintings, explaining that the portrait sometimes called the male Mona Lisa had always been thought to have been lost or destroyed.
"Salvator Mundi is a painting of the most iconic figure in the world by the most important artist of all time", Loic Gouzer, chairman of Post-War and Contemporary Art for Christie's NY, said in a statement released by the auction house.
Gouzer emphasized that the story is about the work itself, and, after noting at the press conference that there are fewer than 20 works by Leonardo known to exist, said, "Finding a new one is rarer than finding a new planet".
Salvator Mundi is being auctioned by the businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev as he continues to dismantle what was, for a short period, one of the most expensive private art collections ever assembled. Finally, the painting will be on display in NY, at the Christie's in Rockefeller Plaza, from October 28 to November 4.
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Gouzer and Wintermute were joined at the rare "unveiling" event on October 10 by Alex Rotter, cochair of postwar and contemporary art in NY, and François de Poortere, head of the Old Masters department in NY.
The painting hung in the private chambers of the wife of Britain's King Charles I, and exchanged hands several times before 1763. In the dispersal of the Cook Collection, it was ultimately consigned to a sale at Sotheby's in 1958 where it sold for £45. The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the market is an honor that comes around once in a lifetime.
The same sale at Christie's will feature Andy Warhol's monumental Sixty Last Suppers, a piece from one of the pop artist's final series before his death in 1987. Years of painstaking research and a quest for authenticity held the work away from the public eye until it was publicly unveiled at The National Gallery in London in 2011. "To see a fully finished, late masterpiece by Leonardo, made at the peak of his genius, appear for sale in 2017 is as close as I've come to an art world miracle", he said. "I can hardly convey how exciting it is for those of us directly involved in its sale", remarked Wintermute. It is understood to have been sold privately for more than $75m in 2013.
Of course, also bear in mind: This is a sales pitch by a salesperson, one representing a house that just vastly overestimated the price of a Francis Bacon painting at auction in London last week. "Many paintings are described as a tour-de-force-this is Warhol's".
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