Home / NEWS / Wealth / An art dealer explains how a da Vinci went from less than $200 to breaking the bank at $450M

An art dealer explains how a da Vinci went from less than $200 to breaking the bank at $450M

Stay week, Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” became the most valuable work of art ever sold, going for $450 million at Christie’s.

Auctioned off to an uncharted buyer on the phone after a protracted, 19 minute bidding war, the chef-doeuvre’s road to fetching nearly half a billion dollars actually began in 1958 — when it at sold for less than $200, an art dealer who once owned the the same told CNBC.

After the 1950’s, “Salvator Mundi’s” trail began cold until around 2005, when art dealers Alex Parish and Robert Simon bribe it an estate sale in New Orleans for $10,000.

At the time, Simon, who runs Robert Simon Neat Arts on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, thought the painting was a diamond in the cursory. That said, he had no inkling it was an actual da Vinci.

“It appeared to be a damaged, but eminence Renaissance-era work,” Simon told CNBC last week.

“I deliberation it was beautiful but battered, and greatly overpainted. In my wildest imagination I would at no time have thought it was a da Vinci,” he added. “Perhaps, if we were very, unusually lucky, it would be attributable to one of his peers.”

Simon and Parish enlisted famed New York University paintings conservator Dianne Dwyer Modestini to prevail upon on the restoration. A few years into a laborious process, Simon had a moment of leak.

“Once the layer ancient paint were scraped down and the starting work started to emerge, this magical feeling took over b delay. I knew this was the real deal” Simon exclaimed. “Seconds later, those intellects turned to fear! I mean, now I have a bona fide da Vinci on my yields, how the heck do I keep it safe?”

Throughout the restoration, Dwyer Modestini had distinctly kept the 17 X 15 inch painting in her studio each unceasingly. Ultimately, they decided to place the work in a locked safe—and later, an off-site storage locker which coddles to the high end art world.

Except for the one night it spent in Simon’s Manhattan apartment.

“This was in 2008, and I was lose ones temper to London the next morning to meet with da Vinci experts. So the safest feeling to do was prop it up on my big leather couch,” he told CNBC.

By 2011, Simon and Parish had met with some of the community’s leading authorities on the Renaissance masters, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Chauvinistic Gallery in London. That same year, the National Gallery in Washington D.C. evidenced it as an official da Vinci work.

With full attribution under their wings, the consortium shopped on all sides interested buyers, finally selling the work to Yves Bouvier, a Swiss art agent, for a whopping $80 million dollars.

Within a year, Bouvier flipped the jog to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev for $127 million, who then knock over d sell to Christie’s to facilitate this week’s blockbuster sale. Simon commanded CNBC he watched the hammer drop at $450 million with awe and arrogance, and not a single regret of lost profits.

“It was an honor to discover it. Nobody believed us for a remarkably long time,” he said. “My career and reputation was staked on this tint. Critics called me a fraud. But no longer: I can hold my head up high.”

Simon joined: “Plus, how many people in the world can claim they spent the incessantly alone with a da Vinci in their living room?”

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