Salvator Mundi: unveiling of world's most expensive painting at Louvre Abu Dhabi delayed

Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece was due to go on display on September 18 – a new date has yet to be announced

Salvator Mundi @ Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

The arrival of the Salvator Mundi at Louvre Abu Dhabi will be delayed, says Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism. The exact date of the unveiling has yet to be confirmed.

The Leonardo da Vinci painting, acquired in New York for $450 million (Dh1.65bn) in December, was expected to come to Saadiyat Island on September 18. But in an echo of the delayed opening of the museum itself, there has been a change in date.

No details have been given on the painting's arrival in Abu Dhabi, but speculation suggests the museum might be waiting for its one year anniversary, on November 11.

From $10,000 to $450 million: Scholars race to connect the dots

Experts believe the Salvator Mundi was painted by Leonardo around 1500, and its whereabouts were unknown for about 300 years until it resurfaced at an auction in New Orleans, Louisiana, and sold for under $10,000.

It eventually made its way to Christie’s, where an unprecedented bidding war pushed its price up to $450m, the most ever paid for a work of art, with the new owner being DCT.

FILE- In this Oct. 24, 2017 file photo, an employee poses with Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" on display at Christie's auction rooms in London. An official in the United Arab Emirates says the new Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi is "very proud" to have acquired a painting by Leonardo da Vinci that sold for a staggering $450 million last month.(AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

What happened in the years between its creation and its reappearance in New Orleans is a mystery. It is believed to have been commissioned for the French king Louis XII.

The painting is dated to circa 1500, but didn't reappear until 150 years later, during England’s Civil War, when it is believed to have been brought to England by the French princess Henrietta Maria, future wife of Charles I. A 1651 inventory lists a “piece of Christ done by Leonardo” in her possessions.

But a new hypothesis disputes this royal pedigree. The Leonardo scholar Margaret Dalivalle believes the painting could have been in the London home of the Duke of Hamilton. An inventory of his works notes the inclusion of “Christ: with a globe in his hande done by Leonardus Vinsett”, a former stylisation of Leonardo da Vinci.

Scholars are racing to connect the dots before the Salvator Mundi goes on display: first at Louvre Abu Dhabi and then in Paris at the original Louvre, for its Leonardo show in October 2019. It will then return to go on permanent display in Abu Dhabi.


Read more:

Where in the world are Leonardo da Vinci's other 23 known paintings? 

Salvator Mundi: World's most expensive painting to go on display at Louvre Abu Dhabi in September

Interactive: Inside Louvre Abu Dhabi

Making a masterpiece: How Louvre Abu Dhabi was built


Here is an annotated guide to the artwork (hover or click on the circles to learn more):