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“Ballsy Bidding”: My Storify on Leonardo’s (& Christie’s) $450-Million Jesus Superstar

That surely wasn’t the Getty or any other public (as opposed to single-collector) museum who plunked down a jaw-dropping $450-million after a dramatic 19-minute bidding war, the likes of which I’ve never seen, to acquire Leonardo da Vinci‘s damaged but still mesmerizing “Salvator Mundi.” The bidding lurched from steady, small increments to vertiginous jumps, as the vying gazillionaires tried to pummel each other into submission.

We still don’t know (if we ever will) who won.

The wild ride finally stopped at a satisfyingly round $400 million hammer price (450.3 million with buyer’s premium.

Here are the Christie’s staffers who worked the phones to egg on the bidders:

Screenshot from Christie’s live feed

And here are other Christie’s staffers at their triumphant Instagram moment:

Screenshot from Christie’s live feed

Come join me now (via a Storify from my Twitter feed) as we relive this historic night, before impecunious pundits start excoriating these pricey proceedings as another example of the execrable excesses and bad taste of the .0001%.

Oops. I wrote too soon: Already, Jason Farago, on the NY Times‘s website, has sneered that “this Jesus, far from saving the world, might struggle to save himself a seat on a crosstown bus.” Ouch!

an ArtsJournal blog