鈥楽alvator Mundi鈥?is Latin for 鈥楽avior of the World.鈥?One of the few known paintings by Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, dated to c. 1500, 鈥楽alvator Mundi鈥?depicts Jesus in Renaissance attire, making the sign of the cross with his right hand and holding a crystal orb in his left, which represents the 鈥榗elestial sphere鈥?of the heavens.
There are around 20 known variations of this painting by students and followers of Leonardo and remains his most copied painting. The original was thought to have been lost after the mid-17th century. Various copies have been considered as the original through historical conjecture. In 2005, a Salvator Mundi was presented and acquired at an auction for less than $10,000. It had been heavily overpainted so it looked like a copy. Before restoration, it was described as "a wreck, dark and gloomy." However, the consortium believed that this unkempt painting might actually be the long-lost original by Leonardo. During the restoration process, a stepped area of unevenness was discovered near Christ's face -- it had been shaved down with a sharp object, and leveled with a mixture of gesso, paint and glue, showing an uncertainty in the composition by the artist. Infrared photographs of the painting showed a pentimento (earlier draft -- literally 'repent') of the painting which had the blessing hand's thumb in a straight, rather than curved, position. This is crucial, as it showed the artist had a second thought about the positioning. It was deemed that this is not a copy but indeed an original, since copiers would have no doubts about the placement of Christ鈥檚 thumb or the composition.
鈥楽alvator Mundi鈥?is the only known Leonardo artwork to be continuously held in private collections and was auctioned for $450.3 million on November 15 2017 in New York to Prince Badr bin Abdullah, setting a new record for the most expensive painting ever sold at public auction. The current location of the painting is uncertain.