For artwork market aficionados, it is difficult to envision 2017 being recalled as anything besides”that time when a person purchased a painting for $450 million.” The Selling of Leonardo da Vinci ‘s Salvator Mundi for almost half a billion bucks, despite a few murmurs about its validity and hefty recovery, was a new international record. It sold only a couple of months after Japanese collector Yusaku Maezawa spent $110.4 million on a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat , unseating Andy Warhol as the most expensive American artist at an auction. There were lots of additional big-ticket items offered at auction in 2017–enough of these to indicate the planet’s wealthiest are beginning to feel more comfortable opening up their freeport storage components and trading eight- and nine-figure tchotchkes among themselves again , following a market dip in 2015 along with a 2016 marked by complaints about a dearth of distribution.
1. Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi (c. 1500), sold for $450 million.
Christie’s took advertising to a different level because it pitched Salvator Mundi as”the last da Vinci held privately,” displaying the painting on a world tour from San Francisco to Hong Kong and mimicked an advertisement by leading service Droga5 which didn’t demonstrate the painting in any way. In the auction house’s headquarters in New York, the piece was exhibited alone in a slick black-walled area that made a sense of scenery and reverence. The crowds turned out, with a few people waiting over an hour to view the art . Whether the high cost was a result of the promotion, the prestige, or even any murky Gulf area geopolitics, we will never understand, however, the painting has been allegedly bought by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud and will be exhibited from the recently opened Louvre Abu Dhabi.
2. Qi Baishi, Twelve Landscape Screens (1925), sold for $140.8 million.
Twelve small ink-brush paintings by Qi , Twelve Landscape Screens, sold in December for $140.8 million (931.5 million yuan) in Poly Beijing, smashing a record for a Chinese work of art sold on the market. Among his paintings, Eagle on Pine Tree (1950), had sold in 2013 for $55 million in Beijing, and assorted bits by Qi sold for over $230 million total in 2016, according to The Guardian.
3. Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (1982), sold for $110.4 million.
The big,intense canvas of a skull on a bright-blue background hadn’t been publicly exhibited in 35 years, according to Sotheby’s. It was in the ownership of Emily and Jerry Spiegel because it had been bought at Christie’s in May 1984 for $19,000. It had been passed down to one of the two daughters, after the deaths of the Mr. and Mrs. Spiegel in 2009. Bidding started at $57 million, a sum that seemed a little high initially, and created murmurs in the audience. The murmurs morphed into gasps as this amount, and Basquiat’s record, receded into history and the bidding jumped. Almost right after the gavel dropped, Yusaku Maezawa submitted a photograph on Instagram of himself shot together with his prize during an earlier trip to watch it in New York. Maezawa’s $110.4 million buy, and a prior record-setting Basquiat purchase from 2016, are destined for public display in Japan.