The artwork is also believed to be one of just 20 paintings the Italian “Renaissance Man” created in his lifetime.
Titled “Salvator Mundi,” or Savior of the World, the painting portrays an adult Jesus holding an orb and holding the other hand up in a blessing.
The seller of the painting is unknown and identified as only “private European collection,” according to The Associated Press.
“The opportunity to bring this masterpiece to the market is an honor that comes around once in a lifetime,” Chairman Loic Gouzer of Christie’s in New York said in a statement. “Despite being created approximately 500 years ago, the work of Leonardo is just as influential to the art that is being created today as it was in the 15th and 16th centuries.”
According to Christie’s, the painting, created in the 16th century, was once believed to be a replica of da Vinci’s original produced by a disciple, but details in the hand and upper lip revealed it was created by the "Mona Lisa" painter himself.
The painting has changed hands several times and was most notably in the collection of King Charles I of England and eventually his son, King Charles II.
But the painting disappeared between 1763 and 1900, Christie’s said, and was mistaken for a cheap replica several times in the 20th century.
“I find looking at this genuinely quite a moving thing because this is offering a vision of peace which is a complete antidote to day to day life,” art critic Alastair Sooke said in a video promoting the auction. “It’s a really extraordinary memorable picture and it feels as though it could suddenly slip off back into the shadows at any moment.”