WATCH: Leonardo da Vinci painting sets new record at auction

Salvator Mundi, or 'Saviour of the World', was sold in New York for over €382m

WATCH: Leonardo da Vinci painting sets new record at auction

Salvator Mundi | Image: Christie's

A painting depicting Jesus Christ by Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci has sold at auction for a record US$450,312,500 (€382,148,541).

The peice called Salvator Mundi, or 'Saviour of the World' smashed the previous world record for the most expensive work of art at auction.

It was sold on Wednesday at Christie's in New York, becoming the most expensive painting ever sold at auction.

The auction house says global interest in the work saw an audience of nearly 1,000 art collectors, dealers, advisors, journalists and onlookers pack into the main auction room at Rockefeller Centre.

It says "many thousands more" watched via a live stream on Facebook.

Image: Christie's

Christie's says: "This stunning price reflects the extreme rarity of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci - there are fewer than 20 in existence acknowledged as being from the artist's own hand, and all apart from Salvator Mundi are in museum collections."

It says since the sale of Salvator Mundi was announced on October 10th, almost 30,000 people have flocked to exhibitions in Hong Kong, London, San Francisco and New York to see the piece.

The previous holder of a record price for an Old Master painting was Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens, which sold for US$76.7m (€65.1m) in 2002.

Image: Christie's

The previous auction record for Leonardo da Vinci was set at Christie’s in 2001, when Horse and Rider sold for US$11,481,865 (€9,752,289).

But these records were obliterated when Jussi Pylkkänen, Christie’s global president, brought the hammer down on Lot 9 after a bidding battle that lasted just short of 20 minutes.

The contest boiled down to two bidders. Gasps were heard in the saleroom, which gave way to applause when Christie's co-chairman Alex Rotter made the winning bid for a client on the phone.

"It is every auctioneer’s ambition to sell a Leonardo and likely the only chance I will ever have", Pylkkänen said.

"It's the pinnacle of my career so far. It is also wonderful for an Old Master to be at the centre of such attention.

"The excitement from the public for this work of art has been overwhelming and hugely heartening."