At the New York auction house Christie's a painting by Leonardo da Vinci has been sold for the record sum of 450 million dollars. The name of the purchaser of the portrait of Jesus entitled Salvator Mundi is unknown. The former record price at a public auction was previously held by a painting by Pablo Picasso, sold for 180 million dollars in 2015. What determines the value of a work of art?
Paintings are now simply investments
The record price for Salvator Mundi is a consequence of the global low interest rate policy, the Wiener Zeitung concludes:
“Art dealer Lawrence Luhring summed up the da Vinci auction at Christie's, which hosted the event, with the words: 'There's simply too much money in the world.' One could add: there's too much cheap - in other words interest-free - money. It's a delusion to believe that such sums have anything to do with art. Speculation is speculation, regardless of whether the object in question is real estate or art. Today artworks are above all investments - and apart from gold and diamonds the most solid of investments. Because unlike buildings, yachts and cars, they rarely lose their value with use, and unlike real estate they can be transported.”
The value of art is not measured in money
The high price must not distort our view of the true value of the painting, Tages-Anzeiger warns:
“Lets be honest: if 'Salvator Mundi' were hanging in a museum in Zurich without a name plate, how many of us would walk by without giving it a second glance? The new owner of the 'Salvator' may have broken all the art price records, but we who trust the dollar sign more than our own sense of the power of an artwork to move us risk selling out our entire cultural orientation. We would do well to take a cooler view of all the art market hype, take another look at all artworks, expensive or not, and ask ourselves: what is this artwork trying to tell us?”