Rybolovlev selling da Vinci masterpiece

Salvator Mundi - Leonardo Da vinciPossibly the most important painting in the collection of Dmitry Rybolovlev, Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, is due to go on sale at a Christie’s auction on November 15. Described as the last da Vinci painting in private hands, the masterpiece, dating from about 1500, is expected to sell for about €110 million ($130 million).

Although the painting was once owned by King Charles I, its history includes a long period in which it was thought to be the work of one of da Vinci’s students. In 1958 the painting was sold in the UK for €50 (£45).

The reason for the sale is unclear, although Rybolovlev reportedly bought the painting for about €106 million through art dealer Yves Bouvier four years ago. The AS Monaco majority owner has since claimed that the Swiss dealer cheated him with huge and unknown mark-ups on a number of paintings, a charge that Bouvier has strongly denied. The row between the two has embroiled the former chief of Monaco’s judiciary, who resigned following press reports of his closeness to the Russian billionaire.

“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 New York, said in a statement released by the auction house.

Christie’s specialist Alan Wintermute has said that the sale of Salvator Mundi is a unique event. “It seemed just a tantalisingly unobtainable dream until now. 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.”

Andy Warhol’s 1986 painting “Sixty Last Suppers” – based on Leonardo’s “Last Supper” masterpiece – also will be featured. Its estimate is around $42 million ($50 million).

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