Leonardo Da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi' expected to fetch $100M at auction

Leonardo Da Vinci's "Salvatore Mundi", an ethereal portrait of Jesus Christ which dates to about 1500, will be auctioned off at Christie's next month with a pre-sale estimate of around $100 million.

It is the last da Vinci painting in private hands, as well as one of fewer than 20 da Vinci paintings known to exist.

The painting has been called the "male Mona Lisa" because of its similarities to the Mona Lisa painting.

News of the painting's existence emerged in 2011 when it was included in the National Gallery of UK's blockbuster Leonardo exhibition.

"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 NY, said in a statement. It would also help if you had US$100 million to drop. A crystal orb is placed in his left hand, while his right hand is raised in benediction.

Christie's announced Tuesday that the depiction of Jesus, titled "Salvator Mundi", will be offered November 15. "Long known to have existed, and long-sought after, it seemed just a tantalizingly unobtainable dream until now", said Alan Wintermute, senior specialist, Old Master Paintings, in a statement. "It has been more than a century since the last such painting turned up".

The work was first recorded in the private collection of King Charles I and was reportedly auctioned in 1763 before it vanished until 1900.

The auction house called the painting's discovery and restoration "the greatest artistic rediscovery of the 21st century".

It was sold for 45 British pounds in 1958, Christie's said. "No one will ever be able to fully grasp the wonder of Leonardo's paintings, just as no one will ever be able to fully know the origins of the universe".

Loic Gouzer, Christie's chair of postwar and contemporary art in NY, said bringing it to the market was a "once in a lifetime" honour. After its re-emergence in 2005, it took six years to authenticate it.

The painting will be shown to the public in Hong Kong from October 13-16, before it travels to San Francisco, London and NY.

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