Louisiana family unwittingly owned $450 million da Vinci painting for decades
NEW ORLEANS - "Salvator Mundi," Leonardo da Vinci's painting of Christ as the world's savior, sold at auction for a record-setting $450.3 million in 2017 after being lost for nearly 50 years.
The catch? It seems that painting was actually in Louisiana the entire time.
According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the painting had been with the family, which has ties to the Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas, for decades.
Family members say the painting was originally purchased during a trip to Europe in 1958. The art was bought for £45, roughly $120. Since then, it's been passed down within the family for generations. That changed after its most recent inheritor, Basil Clovis Hendry Sr., passed away in 2004.
The painting was then sold at an estate auction in New Orleans for $10,000, to a pair of Old Master dealers who had been working to find the painting for years. Appraisals for the painting had been as low as $750.
Susan Hendry Tureau, Basil Clovis Hendry Sr.'s daughter and a retired library technician living in Baton Rouge, was shocked to hear how everything turned out.
“We can’t believe it, that such an incredible piece could have been in our family and we didn’t even know it all this time,” she said. “It just sort of brings me alive.”
Of course, she was a bit disappointed that her family found out the painting's true value a bit too late.
“It’s just amazing,” she said. “But now you know it’s like ‘Oh God, why couldn’t we still have this thing?’”