In a rare auction house moment that left the art world swooning, a painting of Jesus Christ by famed artist Leonardo da Vinci has fetched a record-breaking $450 million.
As onlookers gasped, the multi-million dollar bids jumped from $150 million into the stratosphere, finally selling for close to a half billion dollars.
The anonymous new owner reportedly paid nearly twice the price of its last purchaser. Art dealers claim a Russian billionaire paid a staggering $127 million for the treasure less than five years ago.
The painting it titled "Salvator Mundi," meaning "Savior of the World." It was painted by da Vinci in the late 1400's.
Since then, it has traded hands all over the world from King Charles, the first of England, all the way to Louisiana in 2005 where a group of art dealers paid less than $10,000 for the painting which was in need of repair. The dealers undertook a six-year journey to restore the painting and document its authenticity.
The once-lost da Vinci is thought to be one of only 16 known surviving paintings. It "depicts Jesus raising his right hand in blessing and holding a crystal orb, meant to represent the world, in his left."
But the huge price tag for his painting may not have pleased da Vinci. Art historian Kenneth Clark is quoted by BeliefNet as saying da Vinci "objected to the commercial exploitation of relics, religious art, and pious items." He quotes da Vinci as saying, "I see Christ once more being sold and crucified and his saints martyred."
In weeks leading up to the auction, celebrities lined up along with thousands of art enthusiasts for a chance to view it.
Some 27,000 people, including A-list actors like Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jennifer Lopez, packed viewings in Hong Kong, London, San Francisco and New York for a glimpse at the history-making painting.