Sal­va­tor Mundi

Native American Art - - EDITOR'S LETTER - Joshua Rose Ed­i­tor

I’ve been for­tu­nate to see a lot of won­der­ful things through my job as ed­i­tor of this mag­a­zine. But I would say the high­light of my ca­reer was be­ing in the room at Christie’s on Novem­ber 15 and watch­ing Leonardo’s Sal­va­tor Mundi sell for $450 mil­lion af­ter a 19-minute bid­ding war be­tween two phone bid­ders stand­ing right next to each other on the Christie’s el­e­vated plat­form, unas­sum­ingly rais­ing each other by $10 mil­lion bids at a time each se­cond.

“The mas­ter­piece by Leonardo, Christ the Sav­ior, been in the collection of three kings of Eng­land, King Charles the First, King Charles the Se­cond and King James the Se­cond. What am I of­fered here? Let’s open this at $70, $70, $75 mil­lion,” the auc­tion­eer Jussi Pylkkä­nen rat­tled off to get the sale go­ing. The in­cre­ments started at $10 mil­lion, then low­ered to $5 mil­lion and then, at one point, to $2 mil­lion, all ac­com­pa­nied by gasps from the packed room which in­cluded deal­ers Larry Gagosian and David Zwirner as well as col­lec­tors such as Eli Broad, Michael Ovitz, Martin Mar­gulies and Ste­fan Edlis.

I travel to New York quite of­ten but I live in Ari­zona. I didn’t know the faces in the room but luck­ily I quickly be­friended an ed­i­tor from Elle Dé­cor mag­a­zine who was stand­ing next to me in our lit­tle sec­tioned-off quar­ter of the room. We were the first two to ar­rive. The room was com­pletely empty ex­cept for us. As the room grad­u­ally filled, he started telling me who ev­ery­one was, what they owned, what real es­tate be­longed to them. It was the per­fect nar­ra­tion for the evening events.

When the ham­mer fi­nally was brought down at $400 mil­lion— bring­ing the ac­tual sale, with the juice, to $450.3 mil­lion—the room erupted in cheers. Cheers that re­placed the gasps that were heard when Alex Rot­ter, Christie’s co-chair­man of post­war and con­tem­po­rary, jumped the bid­ding $30 mil­lion to ar­rive at $300 mil­lion and then an­other $30 mil­lion to ar­rive at the fi­nal price, which in the par­lance of to­day, was the mic drop of all mic drops.

At the end of the night, while peo­ple have crit­i­cized the sale, the auc­tion house, the paint­ing and what­ever else they might see as a tar­get, what re­mains true is that for that mo­ment, in that 19-minute span, art and the ac­qui­si­tion of art was at the cen­ter of the uni­verse and man­aged to grab the head­lines from what­ever else was hap­pen­ing in the world at the mo­ment. And, as a mag­a­zine de­voted to art and art col­lect­ing, we find that to be a very good thing.

Let’s hope 2018 brings many more joy­ous mo­ments of art and art col­lect­ing. It’s a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence and we feel ev­ery­one should be able to bring orig­i­nal art into their lives and reap the ben­e­fits it of­fers.

Sin­cerely,

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