It was once owned by Charles I, is one of about 20 paintings from the hand of Leonardo Da Vinci to have survived, and is being sold by a man facing a murky art battle, after already having had to settle a hefty divorce bill.
"You have to understand there are only about 15 known paintings of da Vinci's in existence", says Loic Gouzer, cochair of postwar and contemporary art in NY, adding, "It is the only one left in private hands".
Early in 2017, Christie's sold a number of modern works from Rybolovlev's collection including the Paul Gauguin landscape Te Fare (La Maison) that fetched £20.3m including premium. Originally painted for the French royal family around 1500, the portrait was thought to be lost from 1763 to 1900.
A third party guarantee has been arranged for the painting, which ensures it will sell for around the estimate of $100 million on November 15, said Francois de Poortere, head of the Christie's old masters department in NY.
Alan Wintermute, senior specialist in Old Masters, discusses Leonardo's Salvator Mundi as Alex Rotter and Loic Gouzer, co-chairmen of postwar and contemporary art in NY look on.
"Salvator Mundi was painted in the same timeframe as the Mona Lisa, and they bear a patent compositional likeness", he said.
It's being hailed as one of the biggest artistic discoveries of the 21st century, and it's about to head on a world tour.
Following the dispersal of the Cook Collection, Salvator Mundi was ultimately consigned to a sale at Sotheby's in 1958 where it sold for £45. The Salvator Mundi, which happens to be a portrait of Jesus in the same dark, impassive style as the infamous Mona Lisa, is also the only known of those oil works to be held in private hands.
"It has been more than a century since the last such painting turned up and this opportunity will not come again in our lifetime". It disappeared once again for almost 50 years, emerging in 2005 when it was purchased from an American estate at a small regional auction house.
The new owner started the restoration process, and after some six years of research it was authenticated as da Vinci's more-than 500-year-old masterpiece, which culminated in a high-profile exhibition at London's National Gallery in 2011. "I can hardly convey how exciting it is for those of us directly involved in its sale".
The same sale at Christie's will feature Andy Warhol's monumental Sixty Last Suppers, a piece from one of the pop artist's final series before his death in 1987.
The picture is understood to have been sold privately in an $80m deal brokered by Sotheby's in 2013. Now, the painting will be hung for the public to see once again before it is auctioned off by Christie's.
The 32-foot, multiple-image work is estimated to fetch US$50 million.