Divorced oligarch with ties to Trump sells Leonardo

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  • Once owned by King Charles I, the artwork has been described as a 'Holy Grail'
  • It is being put on sale by the Russian-born potash magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev 
  • He is in the process of dismantling one of the world's greatest art collections 
  • Oligarch was also involved in the so-called 'most expensive divorce in history'

By Iain Burns For Mailonline

Published: 21:13 EDT, 10 October 2017 | Updated: 23:05 EDT, 10 October 2017

The last Leonardo da Vinci painting in private hands is going to auction next month with an estimate price of about £98million ($130million).

Once owned by King Charles I, the artwork has been described as the 'Holy Grail of Old Master paintings'. 

It is being put on sale by Russian-born potash magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev, who is in the process of dismantling one of the greatest private art collections in the world. 

It comes after his separation from ex-wife Elena was dubbed the 'most expensive divorce in history'. 

Once owned by King Charles I, the artwork has been described as the 'Holy Grail of Old Master paintings'
Once owned by King Charles I, the artwork has been described as the 'Holy Grail of Old Master paintings'

Once owned by King Charles I, the artwork has been described as the 'Holy Grail of Old Master paintings'

It is being put on sale by Russian-born potash magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev (pictured with his daughter), who is in the process of dismantling one of the greatest private art collections in the world
It is being put on sale by Russian-born potash magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev (pictured with his daughter), who is in the process of dismantling one of the greatest private art collections in the world

It is being put on sale by Russian-born potash magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev (pictured with his daughter), who is in the process of dismantling one of the greatest private art collections in the world

It comes after his separation from ex-wife Elena was dubbed the 'most expensive divorce in history'. He is pictured attending a Monaco Champions League match with his daughter Ekaterina
It comes after his separation from ex-wife Elena was dubbed the 'most expensive divorce in history'. He is pictured attending a Monaco Champions League match with his daughter Ekaterina

It comes after his separation from ex-wife Elena was dubbed the 'most expensive divorce in history'. He is pictured attending a Monaco Champions League match with his daughter Ekaterina

A Swiss court initially awarded Elena £2.9bn - just over half of her former husband's £5.5bn fortune.

But on appeal this was stripped down to £390 million before the couple agreed to a settlement in 2015.

The oligarch is also rumoured to have links to President Donald Trump, after his yacht was seen anchored near one of Trump's in the British Virgin Islands earlier this year.

There were also reports in spring that Rybolovlev's private jet was parked close to Trump's in North Carolina just days before the presidential election last year.

The oligarch is also believed to have links to President Donald Trump, after his yacht was seen anchored near one of Trump's in the British Virgin Islands earlier this year. In 2008, the oligarch bought a home in Palm Beach, Florida (pictured) from Trump
The oligarch is also believed to have links to President Donald Trump, after his yacht was seen anchored near one of Trump's in the British Virgin Islands earlier this year. In 2008, the oligarch bought a home in Palm Beach, Florida (pictured) from Trump

The oligarch is also believed to have links to President Donald Trump, after his yacht was seen anchored near one of Trump's in the British Virgin Islands earlier this year. In 2008, the oligarch bought a home in Palm Beach, Florida (pictured) from Trump

And in 2008, the oligarch bought a home in Palm Beach, Florida from Trump.   

The AS Monaco chairman has also been involved in a spat with art dealer Yves Bouvier, the man who helped him acquired his £1.5billion collection.

Rybolovlev has accused Bouvier of making him overpay for his much-envied 40-work catalogue - something Bouvier denies.

He is believed to have bought the Leonardo four years ago for £96million, using Bouvier to broker the deal.             

Christie's announced yesterday that the depiction of Jesus, titled 'Salvator Mundi,' will be offered for sale on November 15.

'The Salvator Mundi is the Holy Grail of Old Master paintings,' declared Christie's specialist Alan Wintermute. 

'It seemed just a tantalizingly unobtainable dream until now. To see a fully finished, late masterpiece by Leonardo, made at the peak of his genius, appear for sale in 2017 is as close as I've come to an art world miracle.'

The work, dating from around 1500, is one of fewer than 20 known paintings by Leonardo. It was first recorded in the royal collection of King Charles I in the early 1600s, then changed hands, dropped out of sight and was later acquired 'as a work by Leonardo's follower,' Christie's said. 'Christ's face and hair were overpainted.'

It was sold for 45 British pounds in 1958, Christie's said.

It disappeared again for nearly half a century; it was believed that the work had been destroyed until it was rediscovered in 2005. It took six years to authenticate it.

The AS Monaco chairman has also been involved in a spat with art dealer Yves Bouvier, the man who helped him acquired his £1.5billion collection. Pictured: Monaco's stadium from above 
The AS Monaco chairman has also been involved in a spat with art dealer Yves Bouvier, the man who helped him acquired his £1.5billion collection. Pictured: Monaco's stadium from above 

The AS Monaco chairman has also been involved in a spat with art dealer Yves Bouvier, the man who helped him acquired his £1.5billion collection. Pictured: Monaco's stadium from above 

Christie's said it decided to highlight the Leonardo at a sale of post-war and contemporary art because 'this work and artist transcend all collecting categories.'

The seller is identified only as a 'private European collection.'

Andy Warhol's 1986 painting 'Sixty Last Suppers' - based on Leonardo's Renaissance 'Last Supper' masterpiece - also will be featured. Its estimate is around $50 million.

Warhol's 'monumental canvas poignantly illustrates the themes of religion and loss that were so instrumental to his work,' the auction house said.

The work was executed a year before the artist's death.

'In the early 1980s, religious iconography would feature more prominently in Warhol's art as he began to confront his mortality,' Christie's said. ''Sixty Last Suppers' marked the culmination of a process of acceptance: the final image of communion and forgiveness.' 

Larry White
By Larry White 10/10/2017 23:05:00