Few of us will ever get as close to a
painting as Brad Shar. Vice president of Julius Lowy Frame and Restoring Company in New York, Shar oversaw the re-framing of a rare, rediscovered work by the
artist in 2011.
“It’s always interesting seeing a masterpiece like that in our premises,” he says, “because you’re seeing it essentially naked. Normally, you’d expect to see something like that under high security in a museum setting. When you see it with no barrier between you and the actual piece, it’s stunning.”
Titled Salvator Mundi, the work depicts Christ holding a gleaming orb in one hand and offering a blessing with the other. Since its public reveal in 2011, the painting has changed hands multiple times—from its original owners to Swiss dealer Yves Bouvier to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev—and, along the way, it’s become the epicenter of a contentious, protracted lawsuit.
Now, it’s back at Christie’s, slated for auction on November 15th. Touted by the auction house as the only painting by Leonardo still in private hands, its estimated worth is $100 million. Lowy’s addition, a rare 16th-century Italian frame with delicate gold stenciling against a black finish, is itself valued between $40,000 and $50,000, says Shar.