Is Any Artwork Worth $450 Million? (Curious Monday)

Last week, someone paid $450million for Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi.

Yeah, it's Leonardo.

Yeah, there are fewer than 25 known works by Leonardo.

Yeah, it'd be pretty cool to have one of Leo's works hanging in your home.

But … 4 hundred and 50 million dollars?

Is any artwork worth that amount?

Tell us what you think in a comment.

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18 thoughts on “Is Any Artwork Worth $450 Million? (Curious Monday)”

  1. Whoever bought this is welcome to buy my work. In fact for that amount they can have all of my work for the rest of my life and a custom whatever they want whenever they want.

  2. You mean that if I hadn’t sold this painting for $10 at a yard sale I could’ve sold it for $450M?! Then I could have retired early. Oh well. You live and learn. 😉

  3. Art, or anything else for that matter, is worth whatever a buyer is willing to pay for it. Will the investment in this particular piece increase? Who knows? One thing is sure, the buyer is awfully happy!

  4. Clearly the buyer(s) thought so. I think the money could be better spent helping make human lives, (and really, all life), better. I wonder to whom the tax gets paid.

    In reality this is probably not someone buying art to enjoy it but to have as an investment or because they have some kind of self-esteem problem.

  5. Supply and demand…. only 25 known DaVinci paintings and what a genius he was! Yes, if the buyer has the $, it’s worth it to him. However I would like to introduce him to the Gates and the Buffets, who make a difference in the world with their millions.

  6. Theresa Grillo Laird

    When you have that kind of cash to play with, a thing is worth whatever you’re willing to pay to own it. I can think of a lot of things I’d choose to spend on first myself , but to each his own.

  7. This purchase is NOT about the painting, DaVinci, or Art at all. It’s about being rich enough to afford it, being an “Art Star Collector”, a money/power/ego trip for the buyer. UGH!

  8. I think $450 million is way too much for this painting, however, it certainly should have a very high price tag because it is a Leonardo Da Vinci. As you stated in your early comments that there are only about 25 known pieces of his work, but $450 million is obscene….

  9. The monetary value of anything is only that amount that someone will pay to have it. This buyer has way too much money, but seemed to feel the need to own a da Vinci. The amount is so high that it is pressing against most people’s incomprehension level. We talk about billionaires, but most of us– and probably them as well– have no real feel for what that means. The number is simply too large for a reasonable concept, so it’s just a phrase meaning “a huge amount” and multiples usually mean “incomprehensibly huge amounts.” The work need not even be good to be monetarily valuable. What is the aesthetic value of Salvator Mundi? I simply don’t know, and mostly because I don’t particularly like it enough to figure it out. Also, there isn’t a scale on which to place it.

  10. I don’t like the painting very much either. If a person wants the painting that much, and has the money to compete with other bidders, s/he can spend their money how they like. They (and the rival bidders) probably expect it to be a good investment, so it is somewhere to put their excess money where they expect it to be safe. I don’t know if there would be any tax benefits for investing the money into a painting rather that other assets. There probably are in some countries.
    I wonder where it will be kept to be safe from thieves and what the security will cost?

  11. It was worth it to the highest bidder. Not so much, to me! I’m not totally convinced that the hand of Da Vinci created that painting.

  12. Writing in the Globe and Mail, Russell Smith made some good points. After pointing out that estimates were inflated due to a slick and crass marketing campaign, Smith states “The painting’s value is not $450 million because it is a genuine Leonardo; it is worth that because the buyer paid it”, he goes on to say, “It is not magic for being beautiful or Leonardish; it is magic for being so meaninglessly expensive. This is another blow to any normalization of art as part of everyday culture. It is likely that someone who can spend this money on an object is actually the head of state of a feudal country, because their people’s assets are their own personal plunder. A medieval kind of competition is going on here; the insane competition of the tyrant in the fairy tale, the kind of tyrant who demands all the virgins be brought to the palace or all the redheads be banished. Anyone who pays $450 -million for an object is immoral.” It doesn’t especially appeal to me and I also have to question whether the whole hype does anything positive for anyone in the art world.

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