World's most expensive painting to be displayed at Louvre Abu Dhabi

The museum announced that Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi was coming to the UAE following its $450 million sale at auction

Security guards open a door to reveal "Salvator Mundi" by Leonardo da Vinci during a news conference at Christie's in New York, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. The piece, which was painted around 1500, is one of fewer than twenty da Vinci paintings known to exist. After public exhibitions around the world, the auction is scheduled to take place on Nov. 15, 2017. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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UPDATE: Louvre Abu Dhabi: UAE has bought Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi 

Some of the mystery surrounding the most expensive painting sold at auction was solved Wednesday when it emerged that Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi is to be displayed at Louvre Abu Dhabi.

The painting of Christ by the Renaissance master was sold last month for $450 million, smashing all previous records for artworks sold at auction.

The unprecedented price - nearly three times the previous record at auction for Pablo Picasso’s painting Women of Algiers in May 2015 - led to speculation that the buyer was backed by Middle Eastern wealth.

The museum announced that the painting was coming to Abu Dhabi in a tweet on Wednesday, but gave no further details about the identity of the buyer.

However, the New York Times on Wednesday revealed the buyer to be a Saudi prince - Bader bin Abdullah Al Saud, who took part in the Christie's auction via telephone.

The painting is one of fewer than 20 paintings by da Vinci known to exist and the only one in private hands.

The painting dates from around 1500 and shows Christ dressed in Renaissance-style robes, his right hand raised in blessing as his left hand holds a crystal sphere.

Once owned by King Charles I of England, it disappeared from view until 1900, when it resurfaced and was acquired by a British collector. At that time it was attributed to a da Vinci disciple, rather than to the master himself.

The painting was sold again in 1958 for only 45 pounds ($60) and then was acquired in 2005, badly damaged and partly painted over, by a consortium of art dealers who paid less than $10,000. The art dealers restored the painting and documented its authenticity as a work by Leonardo.


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The work was exhibited in Hong Kong, San Francisco, London and New York before the sale by Christie's auction house.

The highest known sale price for any artwork had been $300 million for Willem de Kooning's painting Interchange, sold privately in September 2015 by the David Geffen Foundation to hedge fund manager Kenneth C Griffin.

UPDATE: Louvre Abu Dhabi: UAE has bought Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi