NATIONAL: Da Vinci painting sold for more than £300m

The fragment from the Union Jack believed to have flown on board HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. Credit: Sotheby's

Flag from HMS Victory and Lord Nelson’s love letters up for sale at London auction

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A painting of Christ by Leonardo da Vinci has sold for a record 450m US dollars (£341m) at auction.

The painting, called Salvator Mundi, Italian for Saviour of the World, is one of fewer than 20 paintings by Leonardo known to exist and the only one in private hands.

It was sold for the record amount by Christie’s auction house, which did not immediately identify the buyer.

The highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction had been 179.4m US dollars (£136m), for Pablo Picasso’s painting Women of Algiers (Version O) in May 2015, also at Christie’s in New York.

The 26-inch-tall Leonardo painting dates from around 1500 and shows Christ dressed in Renaissance-style robes, his right hand raised in blessing as his left hand holds a crystal sphere.

Christie’s said most scholars agree that the painting is by Leonardo, though some critics have questioned the attribution and some say the extensive restoration muddies the work’s authorship.