Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi is Going to the Louvre Abu Dhabi

Salvator Mundi Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci's “Salvator Mundi,” or “Savior of the World,” dating from around 1500. Dennis Van Tine STAR MAX

Dating back to approximately 1500, "Salvator Mundi" smashed auction records when it went under the hammer at Christie's NY last month.

The new owner of Salvator Mundi, the Leonardo da Vinci painting that broke auction house records when it was sold for $450 million last month, has been revealed as the Saudi Arabian prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud.

But The New York Times reported that, according to documents it reviewed, the mystery buyer was a little-known Saudi prince.

It is believed the prince will be lending the Leonardo to the museum in Abu Dhabi.

Christie's says most scholars agree the painting is by Leonardo, though some critics have questioned the attribution and some say the extensive restoration muddies the work's authorship. Buyers from the Middle East and Asia have been snapping up masterpieces to fill regional museums in China and the Middle East.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened on 8 November in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron, who described it as a "bridge between civilisations".

"Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi is coming to #LouvreAbuDhabi". It has more than 600 artworks in its permanent collection.

Da Vinci died in 1519 and there are fewer than 20 of his paintings in existence. As one of the seven sheikhdoms in the United Arab Emirates, and the one with the largest oil reserves, Abu Dhabi is entwined in a Saudi Arabian-led dispute with neighboring Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism.

"We are pleased that the picture will be exhibited again", said Christie's spokesperson.

The first works on loan from the Louvre in Paris include another painting by Da Vinci: La Belle Ferronniere, one of his portraits of women. Rybolovlev bought it in 2013 for $127.5 million from art dealer Yves Bouvier along with some other canvases.

At the fateful auction where Salvator Mundi wound up making global headlines when it soared past figures ever seen at auction, Christie's postwar and contemporary art co-chairman Alex Rotter was representing Prince Bader in the room. The result obliterated previous world records for an art sale of any kind, including the auction high of $179.4 million for a Pablo Picasso painting sold in 2015.

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