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Arts

Leonardo da Vinci’s Christ painting sells for record $450M

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NEW YORK — A painting of Christ by the Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci sold for a record $450 million (380 million euros) at auction on Wednesday, smashing previous records for artworks sold at auction or privately.

The painting, “Salvator Mundi,” Latin for “Savior of the World,” is one of fewer than 20 paintings by Leonardo known to exist and the only one in private hands. It was sold by Christie’s auction house, which didn’t immediately identify the buyer.

“‘Salvator Mundi’ is a painting of the most iconic figure in the world by the most important artist of all time,” said Loic Gouzer, co-chairman of post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s. “The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the market is an honour that comes around once in a lifetime.”

The highest price paid for a work of art at auction had been $179 million (152 million euros), for Pablo Picasso’s painting “Women of Algiers (Version O)” in May 2015, also at Christie’s in New York. The highest known sale price for any artwork had been $300 million (253 million euros), for Willem de Kooning’s painting “Interchange,” sold privately in September 2015 by the David Geffen Foundation to hedge fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin.

A backer of the “Salvator Mundi” auction had guaranteed a bid of at least $100 million (85 million euros). The bidding opened at $75 million and ran for 19 minutes. The price hit $300 million about halfway through the bidding.

People in the auction house gallery applauded and cheered when the bidding reached $300 million and when the hammer came down on the final bid, $400 million. The record sale price of $450 million includes the buyer’s premium, a fee paid by the winner to the auction house.

The 26-inch-tall (66-centimetre-tall) Leonardo painting dates from around 1500 and shows Christ dressed in Renaissance-style robes, his right hand raised in blessing as his left hand holds a crystal sphere.

Its path from Leonardo’s workshop to the auction block at Christie’s was not smooth. Once owned by King Charles I of England, it disappeared from view until 1900, when it resurfaced and was acquired by a British collector. At that time it was attributed to a Leonardo disciple, rather than to the master himself.

The painting was sold again in 1958 and then was acquired in 2005, badly damaged and partly painted over, by a consortium of art dealers who paid less than $10,000 (8,445 euros). The art dealers restored the painting and documented its authenticity as a work by Leonardo.

The painting was sold Wednesday by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who bought it in 2013 for $127.5 million (108 million euros) in a private sale that became the subject of a continuing lawsuit.

Christie’s said most scholars agree the painting is by Leonardo, though some critics have questioned the attribution and some say the extensive restoration muddies the work’s authorship.

Christie’s capitalized on the public’s interest in Leonardo, considered one of the greatest artists of all time, with a media campaign that labeled the painting “The Last Da Vinci.” The work was exhibited in Hong Kong, San Francisco, London and New York before the sale.

In New York, where no museum owns a Leonardo, art lovers lined up outside Christie’s Rockefeller Center headquarters on Tuesday to view “Salvator Mundi.”

Svetla Nikolova, who’s from Bulgaria but lives in New York, called the painting “spectacular.”

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said. “It should be seen. It’s wonderful it’s in New York. I’m so lucky to be in New York at this time.”

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This story has been corrected to show the name of the painting is Latin, not Italian.

Karen Matthews And Tom McElroy, The Associated Press







Arts

Regina ceramic artist among winners of Governor General’s Awards for arts

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OTTAWA — A Regina ceramic artist with six decades of “innovation and technical mastery in Canadian craft” is among this year’s winners of the $25,000 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts.

Jack Sures won Saidye Bronfman Award and will have some of his works acquired by the Canadian Museum of History for its permanent collection.

Vancouver curator Glenn Alteen will receive the Outstanding Contribution Award for his “consistent, respectful and ethical inclusion of artists, curators and cultural workers from diverse backgrounds.”

Other winners include Toronto visual artist Bruce Eves, London, Ont., media artist Wyn Geleynse, Toronto visual artist Spring Hurlbut, Toronto media artist Midi Onodera, Vancouver photographer Sandra Semchuk, and Siksika Nation visual and performance artist Adrian Stimson. 

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette will host an awards ceremony on March 28 at Rideau Hall.

An exhibition of the winners’ works will open at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa on March 29 and run through Aug. 5, 2018. The Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts are administered by the Canada Council for the Arts.

The Canadian Press

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Arts

Female-focused Medieval Times show bound for Toronto this year

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TORONTO — After nearly 25 years of entertaining audiences with jousting and a meal with the king, Toronto’s Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament will soon undergo a “sea change” with a new female-centric storyline.

The new show with the queen in the lead role is already in three U.S. cities and will launch in Toronto later this year. The company says the story is cast in a matriarchal realm with the queen in charge and sole ruler of the land.

“This is going to really motivate and inspire young women to show that there are strong female role models out there,” Monet Lerner, the inaugural queen of the new show, says in a promo video.

Toronto is the only Canadian location for Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, which was founded in 1977 in Spain and launched in North America in 1983, with the Toronto “castle” opening in 1993. 

For the past 34 years, the show has always featured a king as the protagonist and female characters in supporting roles.

“Having a queen in charge probably sends a message,” Leigh Cordner, the creative director and writer of the show, says in the promo video.

“It’s certainly a sea change for us. Just generally in entertainment and media and stuff, it’s a popular theme. I don’t feel like we’re jumping on a bandwagon. I think it’s certainly given us the confidence that now is the time to be able to do that.”

The queen is “a firm but kind ruler respected throughout the kingdom who inherited the throne at the passing of her father, the previous king,” says a news release.

Her “authority is sometimes challenged, but she quickly rises to the occasion as a strong leader, squelching opposition,” it adds.

The show — which still features the usual elements of jousting and horsemanship — has already been rolled out in Dallas, Chicago and Lyndhurst, N.J.

The company says it made the change after guests expressed interest in seeing women in more significant roles.

Other changes include new music, new costumes and new suits of armour, shields and helmets.

“I think there’s probably a benefit to young women, grown women, little girls who come to the show to see this women who’s empowered, who’s in charge,” says Cordner.

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

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