Stunning price for da Vinci has raised concerns among some art experts

Stunning price for da Vinci has raised concerns among some art experts

The marketing campaign leading up to the auction included a chance for visitors to view the Leonardo da Vinci painting.

A 500-year-old painting of Jesus Christ believed to have been painted by Leonardo da Vinci was sold in a NY auction for a record-breaking $450 million.

The new record was set after approximately 20 minutes of telephone bidding, far surpassing the previous auction record held by Picasso's "Les Femmes d'Alger", which sold for $179.4 million in 2015.

With at least six bidders and increments coming in at more than 15 million, sustained whoops and cheers broke out in the packed salesroom as the hammer came down. Billed by Christie's as "the last da Vinci", it's the only known painting by the Italian Renaissance artist still in a private collection. Christie's did not identify the seller, other than to say it was a European private collector.

"I don't know whether this painting is authentic or not, but it does pose vexing problems".

Nancy Netzer, professor of art history and director of Boston College's McMullen Museum, said the price paid for the painting was "certainly staggering" and she wondered about its authenticity, too.

Jussi Pylkkanen, the lively auctioneer, state, "It's an historic moment; we'll wait", as the bids continued to grow to breathtaking heights.

Carl Court  Getty Images
Carl Court Getty Images

For more on the sale and the painting's disputed past, you can read the Times' report, here.

The oligarch has accused Yves Bouvier of conning him out of hundreds of million dollars by overcharging him on a string of deals, including on the Da Vinci, and pocketing the difference.

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 of three dealers in 2012. He resold it within days to the Russian tycoon, for $127.5 million, netting a $47.5 million profit.

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 USA auction in 2005.

Christie's declined to comment on the controversy and had valued the painting pre-sale at $100 million. 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.

The painting depicts a half-length figure of Jesus, holding a crystal orb in his left hand as he raises his right in benediction.

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