The unnamed Middle Eastern telephone buyer is said to have collapsed on unpacking the work and viewing it for the first time at his palace in Jeddah.
Sotheby’s senior art historian Fenton Bazely-Stanhope III spoke to Spoofflé last night.
“This wonderful work is quite clearly an early enterprise by Leonardo da Vinci,“ he told us, “possibly created as a practice piece around 1504. But it’s all there though isn’t it … the enigmatic smile, the iconic monumentality of the composition, the subtle modelling of transmelliant forms, and the atmospheric illusionism. Simply stunning and a very, very special acquisition.”
Our Arts & Culture Correspondent Trinny Bakewell asked Mr Bazely-Stanhope why he thought the artist would have signed the work as ‘Leo Vinchi’ but unfortunately the line went dead before he was able to provide an answer.