Arts&Culture

Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi heading to the Louvre Abu Dhabi

Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi heading to the Louvre Abu Dhabi

The New York Times on Wednesday, citing documents it reviewed, identified the buyer as Saudi Arabia's Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud.

A Leonardo da Vinci painting of Christ that sold in NY for a record $US450 million ($591 million) is heading to a museum in the United Arab Emirates.

The New York Times reported that the victor of the sale at Christie's on November 15 was a Saudi prince, Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, citing documents provided to the newspaper from inside Saudi Arabia.

According to The New York Times, representatives of Prince Bader presented him as a bidder only a day before the record-breaking sale.

The newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi made the announcement on Wednesday (local time).

The Times said the huge purchase comes at a curious time for Saudi Arabia when Prince Mohammed cracked down on more than 200 of the richest Saudi princes, businessmen, and government officials after the country had been pressed by low oil prices.

The newspaper said that the work will be lent or resold to museums, largely in the Middle East and Asia. As the Times points out, in July the king appointed Prince Bader as governor of a new commission led by Prince Mohammed and charged with developing the Al Ola region into a tourist destination.

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Alex Rotter, the auction house's co-chairman of post-war and contemporary art in the Americas, represented the anonymous buyer of the Da Vinci and placed the winning bid after a spellbinding 19-minute contest that saw offers at US$200 million, US$300 million and US$350 million fall short.

The island will also feature the Zayed National Museum, which had signed a loan deal with the British Museum - although the arrangement has come increasingly into question due to construction delays.

The presence of Salvator Mundi at The Louvre Abu Dhabi will be a great draw.

The Museum already houses one of Leonardo's finest works.

The 500-year-old painting is called "Salvator Mundi", Latin for "saviour of the world".

The first works on loan from the Louvre in Paris include another painting by Da Vinci: La Belle Ferronniere, one of his portraits of women. By this time, its authorship by Leonardo, origins and illustrious royal history had been forgotten, and Christ's face and hair were overpainted.

In 2013, Salvator Mundi was bought by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev for $127.5 million.


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