The true value of the only da Vinci painting on sale

Bidding representatives react after Leonardo da Vincis Salvator Mundi sold for $400 million at Christies Wednesday Nov. 15 2017 in New York

Bidding representatives react after Leonardo da Vincis Salvator Mundi sold for $400 million at Christies Wednesday Nov. 15 2017 in New York

What is the only Da Vinci painting on the open market worth?

Among those who came to see it, as glimpsed in the film: actor Leonardo DiCaprio. All other known paintings by da Vinci are in museum or institutional collections.

And then he didn't buy it. because he couldn't (at least not yet), because it only formally goes up for auction on Wednesday.

Like that work, now a prized possession of the Louvre in Paris, Salvator Mundi seems destined to remain outside Italy. Some of the people-who are generally nonfamous, other than Patti Smith, who also makes an appearance-shown in the film are obviously deeply affected by the sight of the masterpiece.

And therein lies the truly sad subtext of the film: Post-auction, the da Vinci will nearly certainly end back up in private hands, which means it's likely destined for a lonely life of hanging on the wall of some plutocrat's mansion, far from the common people (and Leo and Patti) who got to see it ever so briefly.

Really, the film could be titled "Farewell, Salvator Mundi".

Pablo Picasso holds the world record for the most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction. His "The Women of Algiers (Version O)" fetched $179.4 million at Christie's in NY in 2015.

Other highlights being offered by the auction house are "Contraste de formes", a 1913 Fernand Leger valued at $65 million and "Laboureur dans un champ" by Van Gogh, painted from the window of a French asylum in 1889 and valued at $50 million.

Sotheby's said it has more than 60 works making their auction debuts this week.

Chief among them is Francis Bacon's "Three Studies of George Dyer", valued at $35-45 million, and which it says is appearing in public for the first time in 50 years.

Two other such triptychs are in museums, while an additional two have been offered at auction in recent years. It has been given an estimate of US$30 million to US$40 million. Sotheby's calls it one of the most iconic images of the 20th century.

And for the first time, the house has added a rare automobile to an art auction, offering Michael Schumacher's Grand Prix-Winning Ferrari for upwards of $4 million on Thursday.

That nearly certainly puts it out of reach for either the Italian state or any of Italy's art museums, none of which have announced plans to bid for the work.

"No, it's not", said Mr Gregoire Billault, senior Sotheby's vice-president, of the sleek, low-slung, fireengine red vehicle.