Mystery Solved: Saudi Prince Is Buyer Of $450M DaVinci Painting

RIYADH SAUDI ARABIA- NOVEMBER 11  King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin A

Bandar Algaloud Saudi Royal Council Handout Anadolu Agency Getty Images

The New York Times reported that it was bought by Saudi prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud.

And even before the disclosure of the record-breaking purchase in a NY art auction by one of his associates, Prince Mohammed's extravagance had already raised eyebrows, most notably with the impulse purchase two years ago in the south of France of a Russian vodka titan's 440-foot yacht, for half a billion dollars.

The work - known as Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World) by Leonardo da Vinci - is is heading to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the museum has said.

"The prince maintained such a low-key figure that the members of the auction house Christie had a tough time establishing his identity and financial means", IBT said.

The 66-centimetre painting dates from about 1500 and shows Christ dressed in Renaissance-style robes, his right hand raised in blessing, his left hand holding a crystal sphere.

The sale price more than doubled the previous record for an art sale at auction, US$179.4 million for a Picasso. French President Emmanuel Macron, who described the new museum as a "bridge between civilisations." attended and officiated at the event.

It is the first of three museums slated to open on the emirate's Saadiyat Island, with plans also in place for an edition of New York's Guggenheim. The painting's authenticity is still widely questioned by many experts, while the issue of overpainting, restoration and conservation will always be an underlying issue. Under a 30-year agreement, France provides expertise, lends works of art and organizes exhibitions in return for one billion euros ($1.16 billion). The Louvre in Abu Dhabi already has anor Da Vinci's wall, La Belle Ferronnière, lent by Louvre in Paris. Meanwhile, Louvre Abu Dhabi tweeted on Wednesday 6 December; "Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi is coming to #LouvreAbuDhabi".

Da Vinci died in 1519 and there are fewer than 20 of his paintings in existence. The painting, one of fewer than 20 surviving by the Renaissance Master, sold for $450m at Christie's in NY on 15 November.

Its latest sale was initiated by Russian tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev, the boss of football club AS Monaco. They, however, declined to confirm the painting's owner stating that without the permission of the seller or the buyer this information is not made public due to client confidentiality.

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