An employee poses with Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi' on display at Christie's auction rooms in London last month.

Credit: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

The Mona, The Lisa And The 'Salvator Mundi'

November 16, 2017

It took about 20 minutes for four bidders to tap out in London last night, leaving only the winning bidder for Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi.”

What’s the price of a priceless renaissance painting? Apparently, it’s $450.3 million with fees, the highest price ever paid for any work of art sold at auction.

“I was definitely surprised,” said Leonardo da Vinci biographer Walter Isaacson on Boston Public Radio Thursday. “[The painting] is beautiful. It’s awesome. It’s very spiritual ... I do think, woah, that was a bit much.”

Beyond the case of this one painting, Isaacson is an expert on the greater genius of Leonardo da Vinci. In newest book, "Leonardo da Vinci," he describes a mind that wasn’t just primed to paint.

Isaacson writes of a job application da Vinci wrote that was 12 paragraphs long, and only in the 11th paragraph does the artist say he can paint. Da Vinci was gifted at many things, among them building and weapons design.

“I think it helps to love all areas and be that way if you’re going to be truly creative,” said Isaacson.

Walter Isaacson’s latest biography is "Leonardo da Vinci." To hear his interview in its entirety, click on the audio player above.


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