Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi set the highest price ever for an artwork sold at auction when it took $400m ($450m with premium) at Christie’s New York. Image credit: Christie’s Images Ltd 2017.

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The buyer was Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism for the state’s new Louvre gallery.

The much-restored picture, bought by a group of American dealers at a regional sale in 2005 for under $10,000, was first unveiled as a fully attributed work at The National Gallery in London in 2011.

It was sold for around $80m in 2013 to Swiss ‘Freeports’ baron Yves Bouvier who had swiftly ‘flipped’ it to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev.

Charles V lions

A pair of lions from the funerary monument of Charles V of France was the toast of Christie’s Exceptional sale in London on July 6, bettering its ‘on request’ estimate of around £4m to sell over the phone at £8.2m. That set a record for medieval art at auction.

The 18in (46cm) addorsed figures of seated beasts would have been placed at the feet of the king’s effigy, one of a group of four family tombs commissioned by the 26-year-old Charles V for the royal necropolis of the Basilica of Saint Denis in Paris.


One of a pair of lion statues from the funerary monument of Charles V of France that sold for £8.2m at Christie’s. Image credit: Christie’s Images Ltd 2017.

Charles V’s resting place was dismantled in 1793 during the Revolution. The lions, hitherto known only to scholars from an 18th century drawing and an engraving, remained in the same English family for over 200 years, since they were acquired in France by Sir Thomas Neave (1761-1848).

Velázquez portrait

A Spanish oil billed as an early work by Diego Velázquez (1599-1660) sold to a single bid of €8m (£7m) at the Madrid auction house Abalarte on April 25.

Four days before the sale, the work had been declared an object of ‘great cultural interest’ and was subject to export restrictions. The Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport concluded that “in the absence of more complete technical reports, everything seems to indicate that it is a work attributable to Velázquez”.

The 22 x 17in (57 x 44cm) painting Retrato de niña o Joven Inmaculada (Portrait of a Girl or Young Immaculate) was discovered in an old family collection by consultant and seasoned sleeper-spotter Richard de Willermin.

Although little is known of Velázquez’s early life, de Willermin believes the subject could be the young artist’s sister, with this picture painted around 1616-17 in Seville.


A portrait believed to be by Diego Velázquez that sold for €8m (£7m) at the Madrid auction house Abalarte.