Is this painting of Jesus worth $100 million?

Is this painting of Jesus worth $100 million?

This week he'll find out if he was right.

Salvator Mundi, Da Vinci's long-lost painting of Christ, goes on auction in NY on Wednesday night - giving collectors a once-in-a-lifetime chance to buy one of the Renaissance genius' works, all others of which are already owned by museums.

Rybolovlev, who spent an eye-watering $2.1 billion on 37 masterpieces purchased through Bouvier over a decade, accuses Bouvier of conning him by hundreds of million dollars by overcharging him on a string of deals, and pocketing the difference.

Bouvier bought the Da Vinci at Sotheby's for $80 million in 2013.

"Despite being created approximately 500 years ago, the work of Leonardo is just as influential to the art that is being created today as it was in the 15th and 16th centuries", said Loic Gouzer, Chairman, Post-War and Contemporary Art, New York. He resold it within days to the Russian tycoon, for $127.5 million, netting a $47.5 million profit.

It emerged only in 2005 when it was purchased from a United States estate. As Droga5 puts it in a statement, "As the people looked on, Leonardo da Vinci looked back, painting a picture of the overwhelming emotion that this painting, its beauty and its divine subject matter stirred in all who came to see it". "It doesn't really get better than that".

Christie's has sought to emphasise da Vinci's inestimable contribution to art history by hanging Salvator Mundi next to Andy Warhol's Sixty Last Suppers - which depicts da Vinci's The Last Supper 60 times over, also on sale with a US$50 million estimate.

Pablo Picasso holds the world record for the most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction.

Other highlights being offered by the auction house are Contraste De Formes - a 1913 Fernand Leger work valued at US$65 million - and Laboureur Dans Un Champ by Vincent van Gogh, painted from the window of a French asylum in 1889 and valued at US$50 million. The estimated $100 million Old Master is headlining a contemporary art sale.

Each of the other 10 Mao paintings (of Chinese statesman Mao Zedong) of the same size are in prestigious public and private collections, including the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.

That nearly certainly puts it out of reach for either the Italian state or any of Italy's art museums, none of which have announced plans to bid for the work. "But it's... the very best racing auto ever sold at an auction".