Tim Nighswander / National Gallery
Splurge: Leonardo da Vinci, "Christ as Salvator Mundi," about 1499 or after, oil on walnut panel; about $200 million; inquiries at Robert Simon Fine Art, New York; http://www.robertsimon.com
This year, make it a Leonardo da Vinci holiday with the only known painting by the Renaissance genius to come on the market in — well, who knows how long? With "Christ as Salvator Mundi," a 26-by-18-inch oil painting on walnut panel dated around 1499 or after, you'll joined a rarefied list of collections with a Leonardo among your holdings. No, the condition isn't perfect, but this is Leonardo we're talking about: With only 15 attributed paintings known to exist in the world, you'll still have bragging rights.
Bargain: Leonardo da Vinci, "Christ as Salvator Mundi," 2011, poster on glossy paper; about $24 (plus shipping); Shop Art at the National Gallery, London, United Kingdom; http://www.nationalgallery.co.uk/
Currently it's a star attraction in an exhibition at London's National Gallery. The recently authenticated work shows a bust-length figure of Christ, right hand raised in benediction and left hand holding an impossibly perfect rock-crystal sphere. A smart consortium of American art dealers — who now insist (unconvincingly) it's not for sale — acquired it in 2005 as a work by an uncertain hand. The valuation is steep: Reports have pegged it in the $200-million range. But if you're a one percenter looking for a tax break; or, if you have the word "Getty" in your institution's title, you could give today's beleaguered 99% a lift by making it a public gift.
And if that's out of your range altogether, try the National Gallery's online shop. There among a range of Leonardo-themed items, a poster of the "Salvator Mundi" will set you back only about 24 bucks.
-- Christopher Knight