A once-lost portrait of Christ painted by the iconic Leonardo da Vinci was sold on Wednesday at auction for a record $450 million, triple its anticipated price.

The work, believed to be just one of 20 known paintings by da Vinci, was sold at Christie’s auction in New York after attracting world-wide interest.

The sale smashed world records but the auction house would not reveal the identity of the buyer or the region from which they came: “I cannot say if he or she will want to be public,” Christie’s CEO, Guillaume Cerutti said.

Jussi Pylkkanen, global president of Christie’s and the event’s auctioneer, said: “It was a moment when all the stars were aligned, and I think Leonardo would be very pleased.

“It’s a painting beyond anything I’ve ever handled – I should hang up my gavel.”

The painting has jumped in valuation as billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, the 15th richest person in his native Russia, paid £96.8m for the painting in a private sale in 2013.

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