Da Vinci's 'male Mona Lisa' expected to sell for $100M

Da Vinci's 'male Mona Lisa' expected to sell for $100M

Da Vinci's 'male Mona Lisa' expected to sell for $100M

"Salvator Mundi", a picture rediscovered in 2015 and attributed to Leonardo da Vinci in 2011.

"You have to understand there are only about 15 known paintings of da Vinci's in existence", says Loic Gouzer, cochair of postwar and contemporary art in NY, adding, "It is the only one left in private hands".

In addition, the consortium that originally sold the work threatened to sue Sotheby's for its involvement in the sale, alleging that they got shortchanged.

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As the possibility of Leonardo's authorship emerged, the painting was shown to scholars in the autumn of 2007, including Mina Gregori of the University of Florence, Nicholas Penny, director of the National Gallery, and curators at the Metropolitan Museum in NY.

"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 was painted in the same timeframe as the Mona Lisa, and they bear a patent compositional likeness", Loic Gouzer, chairman of Christie's post-war and contemporary art department, said in a press release. By this time, its authorship by Leonardo, origins and illustrious royal history had been forgotten, and Christ's face and hair were overpainted.

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In the mid-17th century it was listed in an inventory of the collection of Charles I of England, and it is thought to have hung in the private chambers of his wife, Henrietta Maria of France.

It was previously owned by King Charles I, after which it was auctioned in 1763 before disappearing until the turn of the 20th century. In the dispersal of the Cook Collection, it was ultimately consigned to a sale at Sotheby's in 1958 where it sold for £45. It then disappeared again until it was purchased at a small regional auction house in the U.S. by a consortium of American businesspeople in 2005.

Despite being half a millennium old, it's being sold in the contemporary sale to complement the auction's other blockbuster lot: Andy Warhol's Sixty Last Suppers (1986), a Warhol painting of Leonardo's masterpiece silkscreened 60 times so that it stretches to the same massive size as the original. Salvatore Mundi is the last one in private hands.

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Excitement and anticipation filled the air this morning at Christie's NY as select members of the press gathered in a private gallery to witness the auction houses' first unveiling of a mysterious, unprecedented masterpiece. The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the market is an honor that comes around once in a lifetime. "I can hardly convey how exciting it is for those of us directly involved in its sale", remarked Wintermute. It sold privately in 2014. Now, Christie's auction house will take the painting on tour. The estimate for Sixty Last Suppers is $50 million.

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