‘There Is Too Much Money In The World’: Half A Billion Spent On Damaged, Questionable Painting

Courtesy Christies New York/Handout via REUTERS

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A private art dealer purchased a questionable Leonardo da Vinci painting in damaged condition Wednesday for over $450 million.

“There is too much money in the world,” said Lawrence Luhring, a New York City art dealer, according to The New York Times.

Five bidders fought for 19 minutes to win the bid on the alleged Da Vinci painting “Salvator Mundi” (or “Savior of the World”) at Christie’s auction house in New York.

The room filled with gasps as the bidders, four on the phone and one in person, kept presenting higher bids. “It’s a historic moment; we’ll wait,” said Jussi Pylkkanen, the auctioneer. This painting is the 12th artwork to break the $100 million mark at an auction.

The painting showcases Jesus Christ raising his right hand in blessing and his left hand holding a crystal orb. The painting has suffered damage due to over-cleaning, “especially in the face and hair of Christ,” said Luke Syson, a curator of the 2011 National Gallery exhibition in London. The oil-on-panel painting has gone through restoration and much damage and has questionable authenticity.

There are currently fewer than 20 paintings left in existence by da Vinci, who died in 1519. This painting is thought to be painted sometime after 1505, reported the BBC.

This is the only known da Vinci painting privately owned.

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