Thursday, 14 December, 2017

$591m Da Vinci painting heads to Abu Dhabi's new Louvre

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a likely destination for the world’s most expensive painting Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a likely destination for the world’s most expensive painting Leonardo’s Salvator MundiCACACE AFP GETTY IMAGES
Sammy Stanley | 07 December, 2017, 12:28

But there's still no public information on who purchased the painting at the record-setting auction in November, when the controversial artwork went for $450.3 million U.S. at Christie's, making it the most expensive painting ever sold.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi officially opened November 11 in the United Arab Emirates.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi - a franchise of the Paris original - is a symbol of the oil-rich sheikhdom's drive to boost its "soft power" credentials. Christie's declined to say whether the museum bought the painting.

Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud has been identified as the mystery buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi", according to a New York Times report published Wednesday.

Christie's auction house, which handled the sale, had said that it was the only known Da Vinci piece remaining in private hands.

The French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche reported that two investment firms were behind the purchase as part of a financial arrangement involving several museums. Buyers from the Middle East and Asia have been snapping up masterpieces to fill regional museums in China and the Middle East.

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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. Under a 30-year agreement, France provides expertise, lends works of art and organizes exhibitions in return for one billion euros ($1.16 billion). By this time, its authorship by Leonardo, origins and illustrious royal history had been forgotten, and Christ's face and hair were overpainted.

Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi", or "Savior of the World", dating from around 1500.

It is one of fewer than 20 paintings generally accepted as being from the Renaissance master's own hand, according to Christie's.

Upon re-emerging at auction in 1958, it was dismissed as a copy and sold for just £45 ($60).

The painting's previous owner, Dmitry E. Rybolovlev, a Russian billionaire, had paid $127.5 million for the painting in 2013, less than a third of its sale price last month, and he is still locked in litigation with the dealer who sold it to him over that price.

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