Salvator Mundi is a painting of Jesus Christ holding a glass-sphere, and has just sold for the record price of $450.3m including Christie’s auction house fees.
Christie’s described the painting as “the greatest artistic rediscovery of the 20th century” and insists that it is authentic — a claim backed-up by six-years of investigation. However, there are critics who dispute the painting’s authenticity. Some have commented on an apparent anomaly regarding the crystal ball. The area seen through it is not upside-down as one would expect when looking at an object through a solid glass sphere. It’s extremely likely that Leonardo da Vinci would have been aware of this optical effect, and so leaves us to wonder why he would have depicted the sphere this way.
“Solid glass or crystal, whether shaped like an orb or a lens, produces magnified, inverted, and reversed images. Instead, Leonardo painted the orb as if it were a hollow glass bubble that does not refract or distort the light passing through it,” author Walter Isaacson wrote in his biography of da Vinci, according to the Guardian
The painting, which depicts Jesus Christ, is said to have been damaged and restored at various times, and originally created for Louis XII of France during the early 1500s. Other previous owners include Charles I of England, and Francis Cook, 1st Viscount of Monserrate.
The new owner of the oil painting has not been identified.