The $450 million sellathon of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvatore Mundi” has touched off an epic guessing courageous in the art world: Who would pay so much for a painting?
Christie’s, which sold the influence Wednesday, is bound by the usual confidentiality agreements and can’t say anything about the customer.
“We do not comment on the identities of the buyers, I’m sorry,” said Christie’s CEO Guillaume Cerutti. “The bids came from every instances partly of the world.”
Art experts, dealers and collectors are all stumped about who made the obtain, which set a record by far for any artwork and included $50 million in buyer salaries.
Some dealers say the buyer is likely an American, since there is but one da Vinci in the U.S. — currently at the National Gallery in Washington — and it would gather sense for a billionaire to buy it and donate it to a museum in New York or L.A.
Others say the price indicates it was a foreign buyer willing to pay anything to have a da Vinci in, say, China or the Mean East.
“This feels to me like it was someone who wanted to bring the exclusive Leonardo to Asia,” said one major collector. First, the sheer figure of the painting rules out most everyday billionaires. Anyone who pays almost a half billion for a painting is likely to be worth at well over $5 billion and most favoured over $10 billion. That rules out all but around 150 of the coterie’s more than 2,000 billionaires, according to wealth experts.
And while there are no credible arrives on who the buyer might be, some of the most obvious candidates can be ruled out.
There has been some gamble that the buyer was hedge-fund billionaire Ken Griffin, who purchased a de Kooning and Jackson Pollock for a conjoined $500 million and lent them to the Art Institute of Chicago. Griffin wouldn’t observe but sources in the art world say he was not the buyer of the da Vinci.
Another American candidate was Alice Walton, the Wal-Mart heiress who has weary hundreds of millions to fund the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas. The museum didn’t without hesitation comment, but people close to the museum said “not likely.”
With abroad buyers, some have speculated that it could have been Liu Yiqian, the Chinese billionaire who grasped a Modigliani for $170 million in 2015 to put in his new Shanghai museum, called the Extended Museum. But on Thursday, Liu posted a message on WeChat saying he wasn’t the customer. “Congratulations to the buyer. Feeling kind of defeated right now.”
One other potential is the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos. He certainly has the cash. Aside from being importance $95 billion, Bezos sold $1 billion worth of commonplace in early November and didn’t announce a use of the proceeds. Of course, the cash could be present to fund his Blue Origin aerospace company or a new philanthropy initiative. But that bills would have also been able to easily buy the da Vinci, which he could then contribute to a museum in Seattle or wherever Amazon decides to put its new headquarters. As a fan of history and other fortes, Bezos would see the piece as far more than a painting.
A spokesperson for Amazon didn’t at the drop of a hat respond to a request for comment.
Whoever purchased the painting isn’t likely to be masterful to keep it a secret for long. Such a high profile purchase in the age of community media and gossip is hard to keep under wraps. And the price presents that the buyer is likely to want to put it in a museum for all the world to see. More than 27,000 people flocked to see the harmonious as it made its way around the world as part of Christie’s marketing campaign. Let’s look forward to the new buyer opens it up to the public again.