By Sharon Marris, News Reporter
A recently salvaged and restored Leonardo da Vinci painting has sold for a record-breaking sum at auction.
Salvator Mundi, the artist's portrait of Christ, was sold for $450.3m (£342m) at Christie's in New York – well over the pre-auction estimate of about £100m.
It was also more than twice the previous auction record – the $179.4m (£136.2m) paid in May 2015 for Picasso's Les Femmes D'Alger (Women of Algiers).
Image: Salvator Mundi, a 500-year-old painting by Leonardo da Vinci, has smashed the record for the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction, fetching $450.3m
Image: Pablo Picasso's Les Femmes d'Alger (Women of Algiers) sold for $179.4m at Christie's in New York in May 2015
Image: Amedeo Modigliani's Nu couche fetched $170.4m at Christie's in New York in November 2015
Image: Francis Bacon's Three Studies of Lucian Freud drew $142.4m at Christie's in New York in 2013
Image: The Scream, by Edvard Munch, sold for $119.9m at Sotheby's in New York in 2012
Image: Jean-Michael Basquiat's Untitled (1982) fetched $110.5m at Sotheby's in New York in May 2017
Image: Pablo Picasso's 1932 Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust drew $106.4m at Christie's in New York in May 2010
Image: Andy Warhol's Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster) sold for $105.4m at Sotheby's in New York in November 2013
Image: Alberto Giacometti's sculpture Walking Man I fetched $104.3m at Sotheby's in London in February 2010
Image: Pablo Picasso's Boy with a Pipe sold for $104.2m in New York in May 2004
Jussi Pylkkanen, global president of Christie's and the event's auctioneer, said: "It was a moment when all the stars were aligned, and I think Leonardo would be very pleased.
"It's a painting beyond anything I've ever handled – I should hang up my gavel."
Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World) is around 26 inches tall and shows Christ dressed in Renaissance-like robes, raising his hand in a blessing and holding a crystal orb.
It is thought to date from around 1500 and is one of only about 16 verified da Vinci originals in existence.
It was once owned by King Charles I but its whereabouts in the following years were unclear until it was bought in 1900 by a British collector.
At that time it was not thought to be the work of da Vinci, but of one of his followers.
It was sold again in 1958 and then again in 2005.
By then it was badly damaged and partly painted over but the new owners – a group of art dealers who paid less than £7,600 for the painting – restored it and documented it as an authentic da Vinci work.
Its owner before the auction on Wednesday was billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, the 15th richest person in his native Russia.
He paid £96.8m for the painting in a private sale in 2013.
The auction in New York followed a campaign that saw the work exhibited in Hong Kong, San Francisco, London and New York.
The 20-minute bidding war was punctuated by gasps and then applause as the bids reached each milestone.
The amount paid included £38.2m in fees.
As for the buyer, it is up to them whether to reveal their identity. So far, they're keeping quiet.
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