People gather around Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” on display at Christie’s auction rooms in London. The rare painting of Christ, which that sold for a record $450 million, is heading to a museum in Abu Dhabi. The newly-opened Louvre Abu Dhabi made the announcement in a tweet on Wednesday, Dec. 6.
A senior Abu Dhabi official said the UAE has paid the right price to acquire Leonardo da Vinci’s $450-million painting “Salvator Mundi”, to be displayed at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
“We worked very closely with the broker on this piece and we bid on it and it was acquired, thank God, with the price we felt it was right for,” Mohammad Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture & Tourism, said on Monday.
The painting, which depicts Jesus Christ holding a glass ball in one hand, was sold at Christie’s by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev on November 15.
“We have been eyeing this piece for some time,” Al Mubarak said.
“Salvator Mundi,” which means “Saviour of the World,” 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.
It is one of fewer than 20 paintings generally accepted as being from the Renaissance master’s own hand, according to Christie’s.
It had sold for a mere £45 (Dh221) in 1958, when the painting was thought to have been a copy, and was lost until it resurfaced at a regional auction in 2005.
Its latest sale was initiated by Russian tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev, the boss of football club AS Monaco.
He had bought the painting in 2013 for $127.5 million although he later accused a Swiss art dealer of overcharging him.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened in November, a vast silver-toned dome designed by French architect Jean Nouvel that draws inspiration from Arab architecture.
The museum opened with some 600 pieces. Under a 30-year agreement, France provides expertise, lends works of art and organises exhibitions in return for one billion euros ($1.16 billion).