Louvre Abu Dhabi to display Leonardo's 'Salvator Mundi'

Esequiel Farfan
Diciembre 7, 2017

A Leonardo da Vinci painting of Christ that sold in NY for a record 450 million dollars (£336m) 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. In September, he helped broker a deal between SRMG and Bloomberg to form the joint, Arabic-language media platform Bloomberg Al-Arabiya.

Bader is an unknown figure in the art collection circle.

Prince Mohammed also put Prince Bader in charge of governing a commission overseeing the development of Al Ola, which contains an important archaeological site. It is home to the first place in Saudi Arabia designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Al-Hijr archaeological site.

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

Before the auction, Christie's valued it at $100 million US.

As auctioneers in NY watched on disbelief, the bidding war over Salvator Mundi far outstripped the original "conservative" estimate of $100 million.

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Salvator Mundi has a controversial history, with at least one expert doubting that it is the work of Renaissance master da Vinci.

He and Prince Mohammed, 32, both attended King Saud University in Riyadh around the same time.

Following the crown prince's quick rise to power, he promoted Prince Bader within the kingdom. Pressed for more information, Prince Bader reportedly gave a terse reply, saying he was in the real estate business and was one of the country's 5,000 princes. This can be linked to what he said to the lawyers of Christie regarding his financial sources. He was represented by Alex Rotter, who was the co-chairman of postwar and contemporary art at Christie's.

Da Vinci died in 1519 and there are fewer than 20 of his paintings in existence. The extra $50 million was included due to the additional fee that has to be paid by the buyer.

The famous Leonardo da Vinci painting of Jesus Christ was headed for the new Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, according to Agence France-Presse.

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.

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