The Most Expensive Painting Ever Sold: Leonardo da Vinci's “Salvator Mundi”

Wallis May Streete
3 min readSep 2, 2023

Art has the remarkable power to transcend time, capturing the essence of human creativity and emotion. Throughout history, certain paintings have gained great notoriety, among these masterpieces, “Salvator Mundi” holds the record for being the most expensive painting ever sold. With an intriguing history and an aura of mystery, this Leonardo da Vinci creation has captured the imagination of many.

“Salvator Mundi,” which translates to “Savior of the World,” is believed to have been painted by the Italian Renaissance master Leonardo Da Vinci around the year 1500. Depicting Jesus Christ in Renaissance attire with one hand raised in blessing and the other holding a crystal orb, the painting is a mesmerizing example of da Vinci’s skill in capturing both human emotion and scientific precision.

The painting’s origins trace back to King Charles I of England in the 17th century, and it was later owned by various collectors and dealers. Over the centuries, its authenticity was disputed, and at times, it was even dismissed as a copy of da Vinci’s work. However, a thorough restoration process and extensive research would ultimately confirm its attribution to the master himself.

The journey of “Salvator Mundi” to becoming the most expensive painting ever sold was not without its share of drama and controversy. After being lost for centuries, the image resurfaced in 2005 when it was purchased for just $1,175 at an estate sale in the United States. It was initially considered a copy of the original da Vinci painting until experts recognized its true potential.

In 2017, the painting was listed at Christie’s auction house in New York as part of their Post-War and Contemporary Art sale. The excitement surrounding the sale was immense, with art enthusiasts and collectors eagerly anticipating the historic moment. The auction lasted for around 20 minutes, during this time, intense bidding drove the price to unprecedented heights.

On November 15, 2017, the hammer finally came down, and “Salvator Mundi” was sold for an incredible $450.3 million, including buyer’s premiums. The record-breaking bid was placed by an anonymous buyer on the telephone, leaving many to speculate about the identity of the collector. The price…

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Wallis May Streete

Mother of three. Freelance writer. Poet. Lyricist. Dreamer. “We are lost souls trying to find the light, and when we do, we dance with shadows.”