The buyer was not immediately identified, but is believed to be a lucrative art dealer, and will keep the painting for their own private collection.
Entitled Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World), the painting is the only known one created by the Italian master which is in private possession.
The 500-year-old painting, which depicts Jesus Christ, was sold after a 19-minute bidding war, which started at AUD $130 million.
The sale beats Pablo Picasso’s painting Les Femmes d’Alger (Women of Algiers), which sold for AUD $235 million in May 2015, also at Christie’s in New York.
A total of six years was spent proving Salvator Mundi’s authenticity, and with less than 20 da Vinci paintings known to be in existence in the world, every intricate detail was inspected.
Once belonging to King Charles I of England, the painting was put up for sale by the family trust of billionaire Dmitri Ryobolev, who bought the painting in 2013.
Christie’s co-chairman of post-war and contemporary art, Loic Gouzer, called the work a “painting of the most iconic figure in the world by the most important artist of all time”.
Many celebrities were present at the auction, including Leonardo DiCaprio, who is slated to play the Renaissance painter in an upcoming film by Paramount, singer Jennifer Lopez and singer-songwriter Patti Smith.