Louvre Abu Dhabi to display most expensive painting ever

Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi fetched $450.3m in New York auction, believed to be the highest price paid for a painting till date

Christie’s staff pose for pictures next to Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ painting in London on October 24.

Abu Dhabi: A Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece recently sold for a record $450 million is heading to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the newly opened museum has announced.

Salvator Mundi, or Saviour of the World, dates back to about 1500, and was auctioned by Christie’s last month.

“Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi is coming to #LouvreAbuDhabi,” the museum said on Twitter in Arabic, English and French, displaying an image of the 500-year-old work.

Details about when and how the Salvator Mundi will be brought to the Louvre Abu Dhabi and exhibited have not yet been revealed.

But it will not be the first Da Vinci painting to hang in the museum.

Da Vinci’s mesmerising painting of a woman, ‘La Belle Ferronniere’, already hangs in The World in Perspective gallery, on loan from the Louvre Museum in Paris. It is one of 300 pieces loaned to Louvre Abu Dhabi by French institutions, and these are on display alongside works from the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s 620-piece permanent collection.

The announcement partially resolves the mystery over the painting’s sale last month in New York for $450.3 million (Dh1.65 billion), the highest price paid for a painting till date. Christie’s had declined to identify the buyer, only saying that it received bids from around the world. The sale more than doubled the previous record of $179.4 million paid for Pablo Picasso’s ‘The Women of Algiers (Version O)’ in 2015, also in New York.

The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the painting had been acquired by a Saudi prince, Shaikh Badr Bin Abdullah Bin Mohammad Bin Farhan Al Saud, a close associate of Saudi Crown Prince, Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. A spokeswoman for Christie’s did not add any further details when New York Times sought more information, and it said Shaikh Badr did not respond to a detailed request for comment.

The painting by the Italian master shows Christ in Renaissance clothing, giving a benediction with his raised right hand and crossed fingers, a transparent rock crystal orb held in his left.

The piece, which once belonged to King Charles I of England, has a controversial history. It is one of fewer than 20 paintings generally accepted as being from the Renaissance master’s own hand, according to Christie’s. It was sold for a mere £45 in 1958, when the painting was thought to have been a copy, and was lost until it resurfaced at a regional auction in 2005. It went on public display in 2011 in a dramatic unveiling at The National Gallery in London, where the work was declared to be the first newly discovered Da Vinci painting in a century.

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