1. Salvator Mundi ($ 450.2 million)
Salvator Mundi is a painting of Christ as Salvator Mundi (Latin for Savior of the World) by Leonardo da Vinci, dated to c. 1500. The painting shows Jesus, in Renaissance dress, giving a benediction with his raised right hand and crossed fingers while holding a transparent rock crystal orb in his left hand, signaling his role as savior of the world and master of the cosmos, and representing the ‘crystalline sphere’ of the heavens, as it was perceived during the Renaissance. Around 20 other versions of the work are known, by students and followers of Leonardo. Preparatory chalk and ink drawings of the drapery by Leonardo are held in the Royal Collection.
Long thought to be a copy, veiled with over-painting, of a lost original, it was rediscovered in 2005, restored, and included in a major Leonardo exhibition at the National Gallery, London, in 2011–12. Several leading scholars have since considered it to be an original work by Leonardo da Vinci, although this attribution has been disputed by other specialists.
It is one of fewer than 20 known works by da Vinci, and was the only one to remain in private hands. It was sold at auction by Christie’s in New York, on 15 November 2017, for $450.3 million, setting a new record for most expensive painting ever sold.