After a mere 20 minutes of telephone bidding, a keen buyer spent $450 million on a rare Leonardo Da Vinci painting. That’s $22.5 million a minute, which—unsurprisingly—makes Da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” the most expensive piece of artwork to ever sell at auction to date.
Now that’s somebody with a shopping problem.
Of course, when there are fewer than 20 authenticated works in existence by the famous Italian painter, perhaps the price is right. Christie’s auction house in New York estimated the piece to capture over $100 million, but none could anticipate how far the bidding would exceed expectations.
Until this sale, Picasso’s oil painting “Les Femmes d’Alger” was the record holder, sold at $179.4 million at auction. But, the rendition of Jesus Christ in Renaissance garb—“Salvator Mundi”—dates around the same time as the infamous “Mona Lisa,” and is highly recognizable. So, it almost doesn’t matter that it lacks in clarity and detail.
A half a billion dollars may be a steal for such a prize piece of history.
And stolen it was (or, at least, lost) back in the 18th century. Pundits assumed “Salvator Mundi” was gone forever. The painting disappeared for centuries after it was first commissioned by Louis XII of France.
When it turned up at auction in 1958, experts immediately assumed it was a forgery. It sold for $59.
It wasn’t until a group of art dealers repurchased the work in 2005 for less than $10,000 that the oil painting was restored and authenticated. A decade later, a Russian businessman, Dmitry Rybolovlev, bought it for $127.5 million in 2013 (read the full story on CNN).
At 26 by 18 inches, “Salvator Mundi” is even smaller than the already shockingly petite “Mona Lisa” (the “Mona Lisa” is a quaint 30 x 21 inches). But, it just goes to show you can’t judge a painting by its appearance. It may have taken hundreds of years, hundreds of mistaken opinions, hundreds of layers of restorative paint masking the true talent underneath, but the painting has finally been restored to its proper value.
In law, like art, don’t underestimate the value of assets in your possession, particularly human assets, i.e., your team.
Building an effective team is often overlooked by firm managers. But, raw talent or expertise—even leadership—cannot succeed in a vacuum. It was impossible for single experts and art dealers to identify the authentic origin of “Salvator Mundi.” It took time and teamwork.
In fact, across most disciplines, teamwork is a key driver of success.
In 2012, Google couldn’t figure out why some of its teams failed and others thrived. So, it set up a data-driven project called Aristotle to find out.
Fast forward a few years, and Google’s Project Oxygen examined whether managers are important (or even relevant) to team success. After much study, Google came up with an answer.
So, how does a company build a perfect team? In a nutshell, the combination of great teams, great bosses, and great business culture (the collective happiness of employees) was at the heart of the company’s competitive advantage.
To learn more from Google’s experience—and to be sure you don’t mistake a $450 million opportunity for $58 one—take the Center for Competitive Management’s course, “Building Highly Effective Teams: Lessons Learned from Google.”
In this webinar, you will learn:
- Five keys / norms of highly effective teams
- How to establish psychological safety in the workplace
- Best practices for clarifying goals and roles
- Eight qualities of great bosses and how to build (be) a better one
- Top five killers of team morale and work ethic
With the proper training, law firm managers can learn to properly appraise its team and the value of teamwork, which—in any medium—leads to wealth.