Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday November 17, 2017
Da Vinci painting sells for $450 million, shattering auction records
After 19 minutes of dueling, with four bidders on the telephone and one in the room, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” sold Wednesday night for $450.3 million U.S., or $575 million Canadian, with fees, shattering the high for any work of art sold at auction. It far surpassed Picasso’s “Women of Algiers,” which fetched $179.4 million (U.S.) at Christie’s in May 2015.
The buyer was not immediately disclosed.
There were gasps throughout the sale, as the bids climbed by 10s up to $225 million, then by 5s up to $260 million, then by 2s. As the bidding slowed, and a buyer pondered the next multimillion-dollar increment, Jussi Pylkkanen, the auctioneer, said, “It’s a historic moment: We’ll wait.”
There were two big jumps toward the end to shake off the competition by Alex Rotter, Christie’s chairman of postwar and contemporary art for the Americas, who represented a buyer on the phone.
The price is all the more remarkable at a time when the old masters market is contracting, because of limited supply and collectors’ penchant for contemporary art.
And to critics, the astronomical sale attests to something else — the degree to which salesmanship has come to drive and dominate the conversation about art and its value. Some art experts pointed to the painting’s damaged condition and its questionable authenticity. (Source: Toronto Star)