Saturday, 20 January, 2018

Abu Dhabi Identified As Buyer Of $450m Da Vinci Salvator Mundi

Da Vinci died in 1519 and there are fewer than 20 of his paintings in existence. Thousands flock daily to the Louvre in Paris to see his masterpiece Mona Lisa WATCH: Art agents frantically bid on a rare $450 million painting
Stacy Diaz | 07 December, 2017, 20:43

A Saudi Arabian prince, Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, has been identified by The New York Times as the buyer of the most expensive ever painting, Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi.

The announcement only partially resolves the mystery over the painting's sale last month in NY for $450.3m, with auction house Christie's steadfastly declining to identify the buyer.

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

Museumgoers will be able to view the painting at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, a United Arab Emirates franchise of the Paris museum, Christie's Auction House told Bloomberg.

A museum spokesperson said it had no further comment at this stage. Badar is reportedly a close friend and confidant of the crown prince, who is already well-known for making extravagant purchases well into the hundreds of millions. The description also goes on to say Prince Bader was "active" in real estate projects in Saudi Arabia, Dubai and the Middle East for over five years.

The result obliterated previous world records for an art sale of any kind, including the auction high of US$179.4 million for a Pablo Picasso painting sold in 2015.

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

The museum opened with about 600 pieces including items from early Mesopotamia.

FILE PHOTO: "Salvator Mundi", an ethereal portrait of Jesus Christ which dates to about 1500 by Leonardo da Vinci, is on display for the media at Christie's in New York, NY, U.S., October 10, 2017. Under a 30-year agreement, France provides expertise, lends works of art and organises exhibitions in return for one billion euros ($1.16bn).

But there's still no public information on who purchased the painting at the record-setting auction in November, when the controversial artwork went for $450.3 million U.S. at Christie's, making it the most expensive painting ever sold.

Da Vinci died in 1519 and there are fewer than 20 of his paintings in existence.

It had sold for a mere 45 British pounds in 1958, when the painting was thought to have been a copy, and was lost until it resurfaced at a regional auction in 2005.

He had bought the painting in 2013 for $127.5 million although he later accused a Swiss art dealer of overcharging him.