Conyers admits settlement after report on sexual conduct with ex-staffers – but denies allegations

Hours after outright denying an explosive report on alleged sexual harassment, powerful Democratic lawmaker John Conyers admitted Tuesday that he settled a complaint with an ex-staffer — who reportedly said she was fired for rebuffing his advances.

Rep. Conyers, D-Mich., initially had told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he hadn’t settled any such harassment complaints. The AP also reported that Conyers answered the door at his Detroit home and said he knew nothing about claims of inappropriate touching, all of which were made in an extensive BuzzFeed article.

Conyers’ office issued a detailed clarification Tuesday afternoon, acknowledging the complaint was real, though the lawmaker adamantly denied the underlying claims.

“The Associated Press made an unannounced visit to the home of Congressman Conyers this morning,” a spokesperson for Conyers said Tuesday. “Congressman Conyers was under the impression the reporter was speaking of recent allegations of which he was unaware of and denied.”

Conyers said he has been a “fierce advocate for equality in the workplace” and supports the rights of his employees, but noted that it was “important to recognize that the mere making of an allegation does not mean it is true.”

“In this case, I expressly and vehemently denied the allegations made against me and continue to do so,” Conyers said, adding that his office resolved the allegations. “That should not be lost in the narrative. The resolution was not for millions of dollars, but rather for an amount that equated to a reasonable severance payment.”

Conyers added that he would “fully cooperate with an investigation,” once the House determines the “extent” they will look at “these issues.”

The allegations against Conyers amounted to yet another bombshell rocking Capitol Hill.

In documents obtained by BuzzFeed News, several former staff members reportedly accused Conyers of requesting sexual favors, rubbing their hands sexually and rubbing their legs and backs.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the U.S. House, discusses immigration reform before a group of students, faculty and others at California State University, Sacramento, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. Earlier she was shouted down by young immigrants at an event in San Francisco where she was trying to drum up support for legislation the would grant legal status to young immigrants. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said she did not have any knowledge of the Conyers’ settlement.  (AP)

The woman who complained about her firing reportedly claimed she was dismissed because she did not “succumb to [his] sexual advances.” She reportedly believed she had no other option than to remain quiet and take the settlement in 2015.


“I was basically blackballed. There was nowhere I could go,” she told Buzzfeed News.

Her identity remains anonymous reportedly due to fears of retribution.

FILE - In this July 12, 2017 file photo, Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. arrives on Capitol Hill in Washington. Franken apologized Thursday after a Los Angeles radio anchor accused him of forcibly kissing her during a 2006 USO tour and of posing for a photo with his hands on her breasts as she slept.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., has now been accused by two women of groping them without consent.  (AP)

Conyers, 88, the longest-serving House member, has served in the House for decades. He was active in the civil-rights movement and helped found the Congressional Black Caucus; he’s now the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called the report “extremely troubling” in a statement released Tuesday. He noted he already had directed “the Committee on House Administration to conduct a full review of all policies and procedures related to workplace harassment and discrimination.”

Fox News has not independently confirmed the allegations.

According to BuzzFeed News, the Congressional Office of Compliance did not confirm or deny dealing with the case.

“Pursuant to the Congressional Accountability Act, the OOC cannot comment on whether matters have or have not been filed with the office,” Laura Cech, publications and outreach manager at the Office of Compliance, told BuzzFeed.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she was not aware of the reported settlement involving Conyers.

“No,” Pelosi told Fox News in a statement. “The current process includes the signing of non-disclosure agreements by the parties involved.”


Pelosi pointed to new legislation put forth by Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier which the Democratic leader said would provide “much-needed transparency on these agreements” and make “other critical reforms.”

“I strongly support her efforts,” Pelosi said.

The report said the woman who settled with Conyers ended up with a confidentiality agreement in exchange for a roughly $27,000 settlement — which reportedly came from Conyers’ office budget as opposed to a massive fund that has been used to settle hundreds of cases with federal employees.

Chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party Brandon Dillon said in a statement Tuesday that the allegations against Conyers are “incredibly serious and disheartening to learn,” but also said that media reports of the case also “point to other troubling allegations of misconduct, including the potential misuse of congressional resources.”

“That is why we are calling for a full investigation by the House Ethics Committee into all of the allegations against Mr. Conyers, and we urge the Speaker to order a full-scale inquiry into the abuse of authority that has pervaded the halls of power in Washington, along with state capitols across the country, for far too long,” Dillon said.

The revelations about Conyers’ alleged conduct are just the latest in a series of allegations shaking the halls of Capitol Hill in recent days.


Last week, a TV and Radio broadcast host based in California, LeeAnn Tweeden, accused Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., of groping and kissing her without her consent. On Monday, a second woman, Lindsay Menz, accused Franken of groping her in 2010 while they took a photo together.

And Senate Republican candidate Roy Moore in Alabama is battling multiple allegations. The woman whose account started the controversy spoke Monday to NBC’s “Today” show, and said she was “absolutely not” paid to go public.

Leigh Corfman claims Moore had sexual contact with her when she was 14 and he was in his 30’s. Moore has denied the allegations against him.

Fox News’ Mike Emanuel contributed to this report. 

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

Courtesy: Fox News

Orange County California Enjoys Highest Office Rent Growth in U.S. Over Last Two Years at 23 Percent

Orange County California Enjoys Highest Office Rent Growth in U.S. Over Last Two Years at 23 Percent

Lack of Office Space in Core Markets Forcing U.S. Tech Firms to Expand in Adjacent Submarkets

According to CBRE’s annual Tech-30 Report, which measures the tech industry’s impact on office rents in the 30 leading tech markets in the U.S. and Canada, the willingness of tech companies to pay a premium for office space in the hottest tech submarkets is spilling over into neighboring submarkets as available office space dwindles.

As a result, adjacent submarkets and traditional downtowns with skylines–rather than the brick-and-beam buildings that tech companies have preferred–are primed to benefit, creating opportunity for commercial real estate investors.

“Office rents have increased in every primary tech submarket over the past two years, illustrating stiff competition among tenants to locate in talent-rich areas such as Tempe, East Cambridge, Minneapolis’s North Loop and South Orange County, all of which have very low office vacancy,” said Colin Yasukochi, director of research and analysis for CBRE and the report’s author. “If tech companies that are used to paying a premium for space in the top tech submarkets are forced to move to adjacent submarkets to expand, we could start to see significant rent growth in those more traditional markets as well.”

The research found that the top tech submarkets with the lowest vacancy rates are East Cambridge (3.3 percent), Palo Alto (3.7 percent) and Mount Pleasant/False Creek in Vancouver (4 percent) as of Q2 2017. The office rent premium paid by tenants in these markets continues to widen, with average rents for top tech submarkets increasing faster than their broader markets, with an average premium of 16.2 percent. That figure jumps substantially for markets at the top of the Tech-30 list, including East Cambridge (120 percent), Palo Alto (71 percent) and Santa Monica (92 percent). Conversely, several emerging tech submarkets have rent discounts, including Hillsboro, Oregon (-19 percent) and Northeast Charlotte (-18 percent).

From an investor’s perspective, tech markets that are attractive to occupiers and offer the best combination of low office rents and a growing high-tech labor pool, such as Portland, Raleigh- Durham, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Charlotte and Nashville, have the greatest growth potential.

“The creation of new market opportunities via disruption and a growing number of industries integrating technology into their business models support an optimistic outlook for continued growth ahead. Commercial real estate investors should benefit from the trends that have given the tech industry greater stability and a wide economic base compared with previous economic cycles,” said Chris Ludeman, Global President, Capital Markets, CBRE.

“Ups and downs are a natural part of the business cycle, and real estate investors should manage their risk and exposure to the most volatile sectors of the tech industry accordingly. Tech-30 office markets should expand further in the near term, albeit at a slower pace. Realistic growth expectations, valuations and viable exit strategies by tech firms will protect investors from potential losses that were unforeseen during the last tech cycle,” added Mr. Ludeman.

CBRE also reports: 

  • Top Job Growth Markets — For the sixth consecutive year, San Francisco was the top Tech-30 market for high-tech job growth; its high-tech job base grew by 39.4 percent over the past two years, while its average asking rent increased by only 7.1 percent. Charlotte (31.6 percent), Pittsburgh (31.4 percent) and Indianapolis (27.8 percent)–all low-cost markets–had the next highest job growth rates and rent increases of 16.9 percent, 3.5 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively.
  • Top U.S. Office Rent Growth Markets — Double-digit office rent growth was achieved in 13 markets over the past two years, led by Orange County, Ca (23.3 percent), Nashville (21.2 percent), Atlanta (17.6 percent) Charlotte (16.9 percent) and Silicon Valley (16.8 percent).

Courtesy: WPJ

Profound Changes Coming to the Global Retail Property Sector

Profound Changes Coming to the Global Retail Property Sector

The Future Includes Tailored Consumer Experiences, Anytime, Any Place, with Robots

According to new insights released by CBRE this week at the MAPIC retail real estate conference in Cannes, France, the retail industry of 2030 will provide tailored experiences for individual customers across any channel, at any place and at any time using data analytics and new technology. These changes will have a profound impact on the global retail property sector as well.

CBRE’s Future of Retail | 2030 series examines 40 “futurist” insights of how the global retail market will function in 2030 amid changes in customers’ lifestyles, urban environments, retail operations logistics, technologies and other trends affecting the industry. After outlining the first eight trends at MAPIC, CBRE will reveal the next 32 over the coming weeks.

“The future of retail will change more than we can ever imagine,” said Natasha Patel, CBRE Director, Global Retail Research. “At CBRE, We have taken the time to think about what will change and what that will mean for customers, retailers, investors and the industry as a whole.”

Many of CBRE’s initial eight insights in this series revolve around two major themes shaping the retail industry: the melding of online and in-store functions into omnichannel operations, and an increasing focus on providing shoppers meaningful experiences around the goods and services they purchase.

“We as a society already have advanced beyond defining retailing simply as selling a product at a store,” said Anthony Buono, CBRE Executive Managing Director of Retail Advisory & Transaction Services, the Americas. “Today’s best retailers are at the forefront of these trends that we’re pointing out. They’re harnessing data and technology to provide each customer a compelling experience with their brand, be it in-store, online or on their smart phone.”

Initial eight retailing insights reported by CBRE this week include:

  • Power of Prediction – Retailers will enlist technology and data to predict consumers’ buying behavior with unprecedented accuracy. Many mundane purchases of everyday essentials will be automated through Internet-connected appliances and other such tools, making physical shopping more of a social and leisure experience.
  • Consumer Experience Goes Individual – Retailers and brands will use predictive analytics to tailor their goods and services – and the experiences that go with them — to specific customers rather than broad audiences. This will lead to a greater focus on niche retailers and shopping centers that capture a larger portion of spending from a smaller, likeminded community of shoppers.
  • Stores As Brand Ambassadors – As retailers increasingly combine their in-store and online operations, physical stores will serve as venues where shoppers immerse themselves in the brand’s experience and experiment with the products before purchasing them for same-day or next-day delivery to the store or their homes. Store employees will educate shoppers and demonstrate products for them rather than stocking shelves and taking inventory.
  • Unrivalled Reach of M-Commerce – Technology will allow shoppers to research and purchase an item simply by capturing a picture of it. Shoppers will find direct links to a given product wherever they see it, be it on television, in a newspaper or magazine or at a movie theater.
  • Pure-Play E-tailing Recedes – Retailers born of bricks and mortar already account for at least half of online sales, while those started online are adding physical stores to strengthen their brands. This convergence will create a truly omnichannel retail industry in which global online brands purchase more retail chains for their physical store networks, and online retailing further influences the form and function of the physical store.
  • Stiff Competition For Customers – As shoppers increasingly favor experiences over goods, competition will intensify to capture their disposable income. Consumers will seek either long-term or short-term solutions, leaving the middle market squeezed.
  • Store Automation – Mundane, repetitive tasks in the store will be handled by robots and other forms of automation, freeing store employees to work as brand ambassadors. Automation also will allow auto-pay service so shoppers no longer must stop at a checkout counter on their way out.
  • Personal Car Ownership Declines – Autonomous vehicles will shift people’s priorities to simply having access to cars rather than owning one. Car manufacturers will collaborate with major tech companies.

Courtesy: WPJ

Home Builder Confidence in U.S. Jumps Four Points in October

Home Builder Confidence in U.S. Jumps Four Points in October

According to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, U.S. builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose four points to a level of 68 in October 2017. This was the highest reading since May 2017.

“This month’s report shows that home builders are rebounding from the initial shock of the hurricanes,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald. “However, builders need to be mindful of long-term repercussions from the storms, such as intensified material price increases and labor shortages.”

“It is encouraging to see builder confidence return to the high 60s levels we saw in the spring and summer,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “With a tight inventory of existing homes and promising growth in household formation, we can expect the new home market continue to strengthen at a modest rate in the months ahead.”

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

All three HMI components posted gains in October. The component gauging current sales conditions rose five points to 75 and the index charting sales expectations in the next six months increased five points to 78. Meanwhile, the component measuring buyer traffic ticked up a single point to 48.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the South rose two points to 68 and the Northeast rose one point to 50. Both the West and Midwest remained unchanged at 77 and 63, respectively.

Courtesy: WPJ

London Tops List of Seven Most Competitive Cities of the World

London Tops List of Seven Most Competitive Cities of the World

Los Angeles, Beijing, Shanghai, Washington DC on List of Contender Cities

According to a report by real estate consultant JLL and The Business of Cities, London, New York, Paris, Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Seoul are among the seven most competitive cities in the world. The South Korean capital is a new addition to the list in 2017, while the other Asian cities have been included since 2013.

“Seoul has stepped up to join the top six ‘Established World Cities’ due to increasing openness, exceptional digital connectivity, the presence of innovative global firms and robust infrastructure,” says Jeremy Kelly, Director in Global Research, JLL. “Once a traditionally closed market, Seoul is widening its international talent base with the presence of many multinationals, making the city highly competitive on a global level.”

Singapore and Hong Kong maintain stronghold as global cities

Singapore, which ranks at number four of the seven, continues to build its position as a truly global gateway, with an emphasis on being a smart city. According to Mr. Kelly, “To retain its ranking as a global city, Singapore needs to continue fostering its innovation economy and presenting itself as a hub for talent and business.”

Similarly, Hong Kong, in sixth place, continues to punch above its weight as a global city. However, it faces stiff competition from other Chinese cities, with questions raised over its future direction due to political uncertainties, and affordability issues.

“Hong Kong faces both challenges and opportunities from increasing integration with China,” explains Dr. Megan Walters, Head of Research, Asia Pacific, JLL. “On the one hand, it faces huge competition from the likes of Shanghai and Shenzhen. On the other, there are new opportunities especially when it comes to internationalizing the Chinese economy, notably with the Belt and Road Initiative.”

Tokyo climbs back up rankings after slipping in past years

Tokyo currently places at fifth position in the top seven ‘Established World Cities’ list, an improvement on its sixth position in 2015.

“Tokyo has faced challenges with limited economic growth over the past few decades, and is taking steps to become as international as other ‘Established World Cities’, which have made strong advances in their ability to attract international talent, international capital and build international connectivity,” explains Dr Walters. “But the Olympics in 2020 is providing an impetus for Tokyo’s revival as it improves its infrastructure and internationalizes further.”

Competition among global cities

In Asia, issues such as poor air quality and income inequality could potentially hamper governments’ efforts to move up the city rankings. City growth is also impacted by geopolitical uncertainties – the rise of protectionism across the globe and military escalations in Asia have all altered perceptions about which cities appear to be ‘safe bets’ or present higher risks for investment.

As more cities are becoming competitive, a second tier group of 10 ‘Contenders’ has emerged, close on the heels of the ‘Big Seven’. According to the report, China’s ‘Alpha Cities’ – Beijing and Shanghai – are part of this rising group of emerging hubs as the country’s Belt and Road Initiative represents the next step in these cities’ global pathway. The other ‘Contender’ cities identified globally are Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, Madrid, Sydney and Washington DC.

With more than 300 city indices currently measuring all aspects of urban life, The Universe of City Indices 2017: Decoding City Performance includes an analysis of 44 of them spanning seven factors: corporate presence, city gateway function, market size, infrastructure platform, access to talent, specialization and innovation, and soft power.

“These indices have a bearing on how we understand city dynamics and serve to guide investors, businesses and employees as they make location choices. They point to which cities have the ingredients for future success and help steer the real estate industry in its response to the rapidly changing urban landscape,” concludes Mr. Kelly.

The ‘Big Seven’ cities of the world comprises:

  1. London
  2. New York
  3. Paris
  4. Singapore
  5. Tokyo
  6. Hong Kong
  7. Seoul

The ‘Contenders’ comprises:

  1. Los Angeles
  2. Shanghai
  3. Beijing
  4. Amsterdam
  5. Chicago
  6. San Francisco
  7. Toronto
  8. Madrid
  9. Sydney
  10. Washington DC

Courtesy: World Property Journal

Brand New Residences Bring Modern Luxury Living to Paradise Island Bahamas

In the heart of breathtaking Paradise Island adjacent to Nassau, Bahamas, a very rare residential opportunity will soon be available.  Opportunities like this are extremely limited on this 685 acre island paradise.

Offering majestic views of the blue Caribbean Sea, One Ocean will bring luxury Ocean living to one of the world’s most desirable locations.

Featuring 2, 3, and 4 bedrooms, these residences feature well-appointed interiors and large patios that function like outdoor living rooms. One Ocean will provide a home-away-from-home only with better weather, hypnotic views and boundless recreation!

At One Ocean, getting away from it all doesn’t mean being away from it all.  One Ocean is situated in the center of the best things life has to offer.  Located directly across from the refined elegance of One&Only Resort, the community is just steps away from the restaurants and nightlife of Atlantis, a leisurely stroll from some of the Bahamas’ most beautiful beaches and within a nine-iron of the award-winning Ocean Club golf course.

One Ocean is set amidst the gentle breezes and endless sun of a laidback Caribbean island. With nearly two-dozen restaurants within walking distance dining options span everything from casual poolside to formal elegance.

Atlantis’s imaginative playscapes provide hours of thrilling aquatic adventure for kids, while its nightclubs and casinos offer upscale fun for adults only–places to dance, gamble, and smoke a cigar.  Featuring 10 stories of luxury living, One Ocean is Paradise Island’s tallest residential building.  Residences offer spacious patios with panoramic views of the turquoise sea.  The panoramic views include surrounding islands, as well as sailboats and yachts setting out to sea. Look down and see the vivid greens of Ocean Club’s masterfully conceived world class award-winning golf course.

Residences have been planned to take advantage of the exclusive views and to connect you with enormous outdoor rooms that expand and enhance the living spaces. Contemporary en suite bathrooms are designed with sleek pocket doors that open up the space and bring daylight and views into the bathroom. Master bathrooms are appointed with pedestal baths and oversized spa like showers and separate water closets for ultimate luxury living. Upscale plumbing fixtures by Kholer are used throughout.

Internationally renowned Italkraft kitchens with quartz counter tops, fully integrated top of the line appliances including Wolf, Bosch and Sub Zero and plenty of storage space, making it the perfect place to entertain friends or invite family for the holidays.

Open plans make entertaining easy in a casual, relaxed island style, with nine-foot ceilings and oversized windows allow the warm daylight to bathe the interiors and make the most of the panoramic views and idyllic climate.  Interior flooring finishes run to the outside and flow into large terraces, so guests will roam between interior and exterior living rooms.  Oversized 24″ x 24″ high quality porcelain tiles are installed through out the home resulting in one lavish seamless living space without noticing where one ends and the other begins.

Special attention is paid to every detail including the high quality millwork thru out. Custom designed eight-foot high satin gloss German Doors with sleek flush mounted frames and baseboards are shop finished only found in luxury custom homes.  One Ocean’s interiors are professionally designed with that alluring beach-sea-sky-pool palette, resulting in rooms that are luxurious yet calming, elegant, yet casual. The indoor environment is soothingly similar to the outdoor elements, with color stories, materials, and textures chosen to pleasantly blur the lines between indoor and outdoor living.

Things get even more interesting in a One Ocean penthouse.  Featuring two stories of Bahamian luxury, a grand staircase opens to an entertainment lounge flooded with natural light. Bathrooms are state-of-the-art and some homes have a second master bedroom, making them ideal for guests who want to stay for a while.

At garden level, One Ocean’s breezeway and pool deck create a transitional space between the neighborhood and residences.  In this relaxing retreat, leisure is the name of the game.  Take a dip in the pool, recline on a lounger or nap in the shade of a cabana after an enjoyable day at the beach, sailing or shopping.

The pool deck and courtyard are a lushly landscaped, calming space that says ‘welcome home.’ Wood-like flooring and porcelain tile suggest a spa environment and cabanas have adjustable drapes providing options for how much sun, how much shade, how much sea view or how much privacy is desired.  Large, sculptural vases and green space throughout add to the relaxed mood. Outdoor garden rooms include a sunset lounge, a covered lounge and a trellised seating area.

Vacation time may be about relaxing, but it’s also easy to fit in many of the things that never get done at home.  Just off the pool deck is the residents-only fitness room, a space for yoga and meditation, cardio and sculpting.  Jump on a recumbent bike or a cross-trainer in the air-conditioned gym or work out with weights.

As well as having a private gym, One Ocean is close to a vast array of activities.  Play a few holes of golf at the Ocean Club course next door. Run on the beach early in the morning, before the sun gets too high. Swim or work out in One Ocean’s luxurious pool or snorkel the calm waters of the Caribbean.

Try kite-surfing; Paradise Island has beaches to suit all levels. Nassau Harbour is right around the corner for the adventurous, with opportunities to set sail or go scuba diving, fishing or racing.

A limited number of waterfront residences starting at $750,000 will be made available for sale in May 2016.  Demand is expected to exceed supply so they have instituted a Priority Reservation Program for this initial release.

For additional information or how to secure your own Priority Reservation visit One Ocean website.

Courtesy: World Property Journal

‘Leonardo da Vinci artwork’ sells for record $450m

Media captionThe painting has been cleaned and restored from the image on the left to the one on the right

A 500-year-old painting of Christ believed to have been painted by Leonardo da Vinci has been sold in New York for a record $450m (£341m).

The painting is known as Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World).

It is the highest auction price for any work of art and brought cheers and applause at the packed Christie’s auction room.

Leonardo da Vinci died in 1519 and there are fewer than 20 of his paintings in existence.

Salvator Mundi, believed to have been painted sometime after 1505, is the only work thought to be in private hands.

Bidding began at $100m and the final bid for the work was $400m, with fees bringing the full price up to $450.3m. The unidentified buyer was involved in a bidding contest, via telephone, that lasted nearly 20 minutes.

Christie's employees take bids for Salvator Mundi in New York November 15, 2017Image copyrightAFP
Image captionExcitement in the auction room rose as the bids by telephone came in

The painting shows Christ with one hand raised, the other holding a glass sphere.

In 1958 it was sold at auction in London for a mere £45.

By then the painting was generally reckoned to be the work of a follower of Leonardo and not the work of Leonardo himself.

It apparently was part of King Charles I of England’s collection in the 1600s and got lost, but was “rediscovered” in 2005.

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Analysis by Arts Editor Will Gompetz

$450m for Salvator Mundi is an astonishing price to have realised, given both its condition and authenticity have been questioned.

It shows that ultimately art comes down to belief.

And there were plenty of bidders last night who were suitably convinced by its Leonardo da Vinci attribution to drive the price up to such stratospheric heights.

As yet, the new owner is unknown.

Speculation will be rife. Which I will contribute to, by noting the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi will have a Leonardo shaped hole in its displays when the decade-long loan deal with the French museums comes to an end.

Wherever it ends up, you’ve got to hand it to Christie’s for its masterclass in the art of selling art.

Art agents celebratingImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionArt agents celebrated when the sale was completed

In a bold move, without a hint of irony, the painting was sold in its Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale alongside a Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol.

Why not in the Old Masters Sale? Because that’s not where the elephant bucks are.

The big money comes into the room nowadays when Pollocks and Twomblys are on the block, and promptly leaves when the Reynolds and Winterhalters arrive.

Read more of Will Gompertz’s blogs here.

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Media captionSalvator Mundi was discovered hidden under layers of paint

Dr Tim Hunter, who is an expert in Old Master and 19th Century art, told the BBC the painting is “the most important discovery in the 21st Century”.

“It completely smashes the record for the last Old Masters painting to sell – Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in 1988. Records get broken from time to time but not in this way.

“Da Vinci painted less than 20 oil paintings and many are unfinished so it’s incredibly rare and we love that in art.”

Before the auction it was owned by Russian billionaire collector Dmitry E Rybolovlev, who is reported to have bought it in a private sale in May 2013 for $127.5m (£98m).

Is it authentic?

The painting has had major cosmetic surgery – its walnut panel base has been described as “worm-tunnelled” and at some point it seems to have been split in half – and efforts to restore it resulted in abrasions.

BBC arts correspondent Vincent Dowd said that even now attribution to Leonardo is not universally accepted.

One critic has described the surface of the painting to be “inert, varnished, lurid, scrubbed over and repainted so many times that it looks simultaneously new and old”.

“Any private collector who gets suckered into buying this picture and places it in their apartment or storage, it serves them right,” Jerry Saltz wrote on

Speculation over buyer

But Christie’s has insisted the painting is authentic and billed it as “the greatest artistic rediscovery of the 20th Century”.

Georgina Adam, who is an Art Market specialist, told the BBC the price of the piece is “fuelled by the sheer amount of money that billionaires have.”

“This is the last Leonardo painting you can buy. This isn’t as a store of value, it’s the ultimate trophy – only one person in the world can own this.

“If you think of the wealth of some billionaires, Bill Gates is worth 87 billion, and I’m not saying it’s him, but near to half a billion would not be a colossal chunk out of his income for example.”

The auction house has not revealed who purchased the picture, but Hunter speculates it could be a buyer from Asia or even be on the way to the new Louvre in Abu Dhabi.

A general view shows part of the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum designed by French architect Jean Nouvel on 8 November 2017 prior to the inauguration of the museum on Saadiyat island in the Emirati capital.Image copyrightAFP
Image captionCould the painting be headed for Abu Dhabi’s new Louvre Museum?

“It’s the sort of painting you can imagine as a star piece in a private collection and as billionaire collectors like to set up their own museums, it could be a good piece for them,” Hunter said.

Adam also thinks the piece could have gone to an Asian market.

“We don’t know who bought it, I went to the Louvre in Abu Dhabi and I did wonder whether the Gulf could be responsible.

“People are thinking the Far East, the picture was taken to Hong Kong before it was put up for sale to show to possible buyers there so that is possible. ”

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Other high-priced paintings

Staff carefully hold building to the wall wearing protective glovesImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionPaul Gauguin’s ‘When Will You marry?’ broke price records in 2015

1Interchange by Willem de Kooning – $300m (£230m)

The 79 x 69 inch (2 x 1.75m) expressionist piece was painted in 1955. It was sold to hedge-fund founder Kenneth C Griffin, who spent about $500m in total in 2016 on a Pollock piece too.

2. Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?) by Paul Gauguin – $300m (£230m)

His post-impressionist painting of Tahiti women was sold in February 2015 to a mystery buyer, rumoured to be a Qatari museum, and is thought to share the top spot with a piece by William de Kooning.

3. The Card Players by Paul Cézanne – $250m (£190m)

This sale to Qatar broke records in 2011. The piece was painted at the end of the 19th Century and was part of a five-part series. The others in the series are at some of the world’s most prestigious art museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

4. Number 17A by Jackson Pollock – $200m (£150m)

This abstract expressionist piece was also sold in 2016 to Kenneth C Griffin from American businessman David Geffen.

Kenneth C Griffin speaking at a New York Times eventImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionMr Griffin, 49, founded global investment firm Citadel and is considered one of the world’s most active art buyers

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