As the dust settles on the media frenzy around the world-record sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s painting Salvatore Mundi, the question on everyone’s lips is who bought the masterpiece?
Although dealers are speculating, the truth is no one knows.
Some suggest the buyer is an American billionaire with cash to burn, but the basis for their arguments seems to be America only has a single da Vinci painting, which is no evidence.
Others believe the buyer comes from China or the Asia Pacific. Again, the region has plenty of billionaires with stacks of cash, but no evidence confirms the theory.
Lips at auctioneer Christie’s, which sold the work, are sealed by a confidentiality agreement with the buyer.
“We do not comment on the identities of the buyers, I’m sorry,” said CEO Guillaume Cerutti. “The bids came from every part of the world.”
The mega $450 million purchase would have cost the buyer more than half a billion dollars once fees were added.
The price tag rules out many billionaires who would baulk at handing over a large percentage of their fortune to acquire an art work.
To part with that sort of cash without blinking would mean having a fortune of at least $5 billion and probably more than $10 billion, say pundits.
That rules out just about everyone except for the 100 or so richest men and women in the world.
In recent times, many billionaires have been known to buy art to lend to a museum or gallery.
Billionaire price tag
Walmart heiress Alice Walton has spent hundreds of millions doing just this for a gallery in Arkansas.
But although she and other billionaires have been approached to see if they bought the Salvatore Mundi, all have denied the purchase.
Amazon billionaire owner Jeff Bezos is the world’s wealthiest man with around $95 billion in the bank. He probably would not notice the off $5 billion missing from his account, but the company has not commented on if he bought the da Vinci.
Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates also has a love of art and the money to snap up the Salvatore Mundi. Again, he has no comment.
The secret should soon be revealed as someone shipping or insuring the work lets the news out online.