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Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi (c. 1500)

450,000$
Christie’s took marketing to a new level as it pitched Salvator Mundi as “the last da Vinci in private hands,” taking the piece on a world tour from San Francisco to Hong Kong and commissioning an ad by top agency Droga5 that didn’t show the painting at all. At the auction house’s headquarters in New York, the work was displayed alone in a sleek black-walled room that created a sense of spectacle and reverence. The crowds turned out, with some people waiting over an hour to glimpse the work. Whether the high price was due to the marketing, the prestige, or some murky Gulf region geopolitics, we’ll never know, but the painting was reportedly purchased by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud and will be exhibited in the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi.