'Salvator Mundi' Is Heading to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Tweet Says

Joann Johnston
December 7, 2017

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is getting Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi, which sold last month at a Christie's auction for US$450 million, the most ever paid for a work of art.

"Congratulations", Christie's said in a tweeted reply to the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Christie's has steadfastly declined to say who bought the artwork, but confirmed its destination on Wednesday, at least partly solving the mystery.

This particular prince reportedly did not have a history of collecting art and was a friend of Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The New York Times reported Saudi Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud purchased the painting at the November 15 auction.

Prince Bader is listed as a director of Houston-based Energy Holdings International, Inc. As one of the seven sheikhdoms in the United Arab Emirates, and the one with the largest oil reserves, Abu Dhabi is entwined in a Saudi Arabian-led dispute with neighbouring Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism. The previous record was Pablo Picasso's Les Femmes d'Alger, which sold for $179 million.

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The Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first museum to bear the Louvre name outside France, presents around 600 pieces and has been billed as "the first universal museum in the Arab world".

It is the first of three museums slated to open on the emirate's Saadiyat Island, with plans also in place for an edition of New York's Guggenheim.

The work - entitled "Salvator Mundi", sold on Wednesday, was painted five centuries ago and is the only painting by the Italian Renaissance polymath to be privately held, Efe news reported. The Louvre is planning a blockbuster da Vinci exhibition for 2019, but the loans for it have not been made public.

Believed to be the last Da Vinci in private hands, Salvator Mundi commanded four times what Christie's had projected even as sceptics questioned its authenticity.

Once owned by King Charles I of England, it disappeared from view until 1900, when it resurfaced and was acquired by a British collector.

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