A portrait of Christ by Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci has shattered all previous records for artworks sold at auction or privately, fetching a whopping $450.3 million on Wednesday at Christie's in New York.
Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World), is one of only a score of da Vinci's still in existence and the only one held privately.
The bidding opened at $75 million and ran for 19 minutes.
"There were gasps throughout the sale, as the bids climbed by tens of millions up to $225 million, by fives up to $260 million, and then by twos. As the bidding slowed, and a buyer pondered the next multi-million-dollar increment, Jussi Pylkkanen, the auctioneer, said, 'It's an historic moment; we'll wait.'
Toward the end, Alex Rotter, Christie's co-chairman of postwar and contemporary art, who represented a buyer on the phone, made two big jumps to shake off one last rival bid from Francis de Poortere, Christie's head of old master paintings."
The name of the buyer was not immediately released. The final bid was $400 million, but the sale price includes a premium paid to Christie's.