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5 fascinating facts about Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi

5 fascinating facts about Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi
From CBC - November 15, 2017

It's been called ethereal, mysterious, spooky and a rediscovered masterpiece. Whatever you think of it, the art world's eyes are on tonight's New York auction of the Salvator Mundi(Saviour of the World )touted as a long-lost painting by the Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci.

Dating from the 1500s, the work is billed as the final Leonardo work held in private hands, one of fewer than 20 attributed works by the artist and valued by Christie's at $100 million US (which, incidentally, is where the bidding will start).

Depicting a half-length, front-facing Christ figure grasping a crystal orb in one hand, with the other raised in a gesture of benediction, the work is an outlier of sorts for Christie's annual auction of post-war and contemporary art. Regardless, it's definitely a highlight andpositioned close to the top of the sale as the ninth lot.

The artwork, put up for sale by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, is fascinating for a host of reasons.

It's part of a legal battle

The painting is one of the works cited in a legal battle between Rybolovlev and his former art adviser, Yves Bouvier. The Russian oligarch has accused Swiss dealer Bouvier of bilking him out of hundreds of millions of dollars through art purchases over the years.

Rybolovlev alleges that he enlisted Bouvier to serve as an art-buying intermediary, but that the dealer instead bought pieces he was interested in and resold them to him with a massive markup, including with his 2013 purchase of the Salvator Mundi.

It's had major cosmetic surgery

The painting has had its share of work done, most recently by esteemed New York-based restoration specialist Dianne Dwyer Modestini.

It's mired in controversy

Its salewill likely topple a Canadian's record

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