Leonardo paints Salvator Mundi possibly for King Louis XII of France and his consort, Anne of Brittany. It is most likely commissioned soon after the conquests of Milan and Genoa.
The 26-inch haunting oil-on-panel painting depicts a half-length figure of Christ as Savior of the World, facing front and dressed in Renaissance-era robes. In his painting, Leonardo presents
Christ as he is characterised in the Gospel of John 4:14: 'And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the World.' Christ gazes fixedly at the spectator,
lightly bearded with auburn ringlets, holding a crystal sphere in his left hand and offering benediction with his right.
Salvator Mundi was at once time believed to have been destroyed. The painting disappeared from 1763 until 1900, when it was bought by Sir Charles Robinson as a work by Bernardino Luini, a follower of Leonardo. It next appeared at a Sotheby's in England in 1958 where it sold for £45 - about $125 at the time. It then disappeared again until it was bought at a small U.S. auction house in 2005.
Even though there are some respected experts on Renaissance art who question the attribution of the painting to Leonardo, it was sold at auction at Christie's in New York in November 2017 for $450,312,500, a new record price for an artwork. The purchaser was not disclosed. The highest price previously paid for an artwork at auction was for Pablo Picasso's Les Femmes d'Alger, which sold for $179.4 million in May 2015 at Christie's New York.