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A Vinci controversial autumn auction star in New York

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – Tolga Akmen – | The painting “Salvator Mundi” by Leonardo da Vinci exhibited in London on October 22, 2017

There will be Chagall, Van Gogh, Picasso and Warhol, but the star of the autumn auctions that open Monday in New York will be Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi”, in the middle of a battle between a Russian billionaire and an art dealer.

The house Christie’s had announced in October that it would sell on November 15 this painting, alone among the less than 20 paintings preserved from the master of the Renaissance to be always in private hands.

The auction house estimated the value of this 65 cm x 45 cm canvas at 100 million dollars, sold for only 45 pounds in 1958, long before it was recognized as an authentic “Leonardo” in 2005.

Billionaire Dmitri Rybolovlev, an exiled oligarch who presides over the AS Monaco football club, accuses Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier, who was to help him invest some $ 2 billion worth of works of art. took exorbitant margins on the paintings he gave him.

The “Salvator Mundi”, Christ “savior of the world”, painted around 1500, would be the blatant proof of this scam: Yves Bouvier would have bought the table at Sotheby’s for 80 million dollars in 2013, and would have resold to M Rybolovlev for 127.5 million.

Some have speculated that by putting this picture at auction, the Russian billionaire, whose battle with Mr. Bouvier is now going to court, hopes to show that the price he paid was largely overestimated.

Christie’s refuses to comment on this controversy. “Look at this painting, it’s an extraordinary work of art, that’s what you have to concentrate on,” says his head of old paintings, François de Poortere.

– Warhol inspired by Vinci –

To attract wealthy collectors, the “Salvator Mundi” has traveled to Hong Kong, London, New York and San Francisco – where the billionaires of Silicon Valley have “a special connection” with the inventor that was Vinci, according to Erin McAndrew, communications manager at Christie’s.

To further accentuate the “Vinci effect”, Christie’s will sell the painting alongside a gigantic work by Andy Warhol, “Sixty Last Suppers” (“60 Cènes”).

Reproducing 60 times the famous “Last Supper” of the Italian master, it is estimated at 50 million dollars.

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – TIMOTHY A. CLARY – | A painting by Andy Warhol exhibited in New York on November 3, 2017

Another imposing Warhol of these big autumn sales: an interpretation of the official portraits of Mao with bright red lips, made in 1972 after the visit of the American president Richard Nixon in China, evaluated between 30 and 40 million dollars.

This “Mao” never exposed since 1973 will be one of the stars Thursday at Sotheby’s, with also a triptych Francis Bacon of 1966, “Three Studies of George Dyer”, valued between 35 and 45 million.

– Schumacher F1 –

For these fall sales, which are expected to exceed well over a billion dollars, Christie’s and Sotheby’s welcome a “balanced” market between Asia, Europe and the United States, supported by a series of works renowned circuit outputs for decades.

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – FRANCOIS GUILLOT – | Fernand Léger’s “Contrasts de formes” painting exhibited in Paris on October 18th, 2017

“Contrasts of forms”, an abstract composition of Fernand Léger of 1913 evaluated by Christie’s around 65 million dollars, will be one of the stars on Monday, with the “Plowman in a field” of Van Gogh, painted from the window of sanatorium of Saint Remy where the Dutch lived in 1889, estimated at 50 million.

Without reaching such amounts, Chagall’s “The Lovers”, made during a particularly happy period of painter Vitebsk, is estimated between 12 and 18 million dollars. He has not changed hands since 1928.

“The Chagall market has never risen very high because the auction houses could not get their hands on really strong paintings but, here, for once, we have one,” says Grégoire Billault, vice -president of Sotheby’s.

Exceptionally, Sotheby’s added to these sales a race car, a Ferrari that won the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco in 2001, with Michael Schumacher at the wheel. Estimated between 4 and 5 million, it will be auctioned Thursday.

“It’s not a work of art,” Grégoire Billault admits, but “we all grew up with cars, dreamed of cars, and I thought it would be nice to wink.”

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