Imagine what you can do if you had millions of dollars in your bank account. Some would buy huge mansions, while some would spend it on a luxury car collection. Would you believe that one person chose to use $450 million on a single painting? This is not new because a lot of people around the world apparently spend millions on pieces up for grabs during art auctions.

The Underestimated Mundi

“Mona Lisa” has been given a male version which is called the “Salvator Mundi”. The painting, which is one of the few pieces of Italian master Leonardo Da Vinci, is an image of Jesus Christ. The painting wasn’t in the best condition when it was rediscovered in Louisiana back in 2005, so Robert Simon, who is an art collector from New York City, purchased the painting for less than $10,000 since he believed it was just a copy and not an actual Da Vinci painting.

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The Salvator Mundi

Because of the painting being hidden for decades, Simon spent a lot of time in restoring it. Not one but a total of six years was spent for the restoration of the painting. Dianne Dwyer Modestini, who is a New York University paintings conservator, was the woman responsible for all the restoration that happened. Simon claims that once they removed the paint layer which seemed ancient, the original work beneath it really looked like the real deal. He even met with Da Vinci experts to confirm if it was legit—and yes, it was!

He instantly became scared because he knew he needed to keep it safe since it would attract the attention of a lot of people. The painting was originally kept in Modestini’s studio throughout the whole restoration process then it was later transferred to a locked safe. Eventually, the painting was moved to another safe place which was an off-site storage locker that is used by the people from the elite art world.

Art collector, Robert Simon

Once all the restoration was finished, Simon was ready to go public about it. He had meetings with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Gallery in London and the painting was eventually put up for exhibit around the world. It has been exhibited in places like New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong, and London.

From One Rich Man To Another

Of course, numerous people wanted to get their hands on the painting once they heard it was an actual Da Vinci painting. After Simon, the next guy who was able to purchase the painting was Yves Bouvier, a Swiss art dealer. He took out $80 million from his bank account for the purchase. You could definitely see how much the painting’s worth was growing from Simon’s original $10,000 purchase.

After one year, Bouvier already gave up the painting and sold it to the Russian billionaire, Dmitry Rybolovlev. Bouvier sold it for $127 million and little did Rybolovlev know that he just made a super profitable purchase. He did not waste any second and instantly placed the piece up for auction in Christie’s Auction House in New York.

Dmitry Rybolovlev Dmitry Rybolovlev, the most recent owner of the Salvator Mundi before it was auctioned for $450 million

When the Salvator Mundi was placed up for bidding, it started at $100 million and later ended in a whopping $400 million bid. (The extra $50 million was for different fees for the auction) The identity of the bidder remains unknown but we’re sure he/she has billions in their name to be able to make such purchase. Simon was present during the bidding and he says he didn’t feel any loss when the hammer dropped at a $400 million-worth bid. He says he feels honored to have discovered such masterpiece.

The Salvator Mundi is now the Most Expensive Art Work ever to be sold. Two years ago,  de Kooning’s “Interchange” was the title holder of Most Expensive Art Work at $300 million. The buyer was billionaire Ken Griffin who was fond of buying multi-million dollar paintings. Griffin was one of the suspects who was rumored to be the unnamed buyer of the Mundi.

How much would you pay for a genuine Da Vinci piece?



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