WATCH: Art agents frantically bid on a rare $450 million painting

Salvator mundi auction christiesEduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty ImagesAgents celebrate after buying the auction of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ during the Post-War and Contemporary Art evening sale at Christie’s on November 15, 2017 in New York City.
  • Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi,” the world’s most-expensive painting, was auctioned off for a staggering $US450 million.
  • You can’t rush art.

The world’s most expensive painting was auctioned off at a staggering price of $US450 million Wednesday, offering a glimpse not only at the supposed artwork of a world-renowned artist, but the prohibitively expensive world of art.

Bidding on Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi,” which translates to “Saviour of the World,” opened at $US70 million, but increased almost immediately to $US95 million. The 26-inch-tall depiction of Christ dates back to around 1500, and is one of the fewer than 20 artworks in existence that is generally accepted to be from Leonardo da Vinci.

As the price went up, agents could be seen frantically discussing the developments over the phone with their clients. During the proceeding, Jussi Pylkkänen, Christie’s Global President and auctioneer for the sale, made a few classy quips during the process.

“Are we all done,” Pylkkänen coolly asked the room at one point, gesturing toward the busy agents. “Maybe not, don’t take the photograph quite yet.”

“Will you give me 290,” Pylkkänen asked one of the agents.

“300,” the agent replied.

“I thought so,” Pylkkänen said, amid gasps and applause. “$US300 million. Let’s see if that’s done it.”

But the bidders weren’t done. Nearly 20 minutes after the start of the auction, the last bid was finalised with an audible smash of Pylkkänen’s gavel. A buyer’s premium and fees would eventually be tacked on to the final bid, bringing the total price to $US450,312,500.

Around 1,000 people were reportedly packed into Christie’s Auction House in New York to bear witness to the historic event, while thousands more watched a live-stream. The video now has more than 1.5 million views.

“It is every auctioneer’s ambition to sell a Leonardo and likely the only chance I will ever have,’ Pylkkänen said, according to Christie’s. “It’s the pinnacle of my career so far.”

“The excitement from the public for this work of art has been overwhelming and hugely heartening.”

Watch the video here:

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