Monday, 11 December, 2017

Saudi prince is buyer of world's dearest painting, Leonardo's Salvator Mundi

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a likely destination for the world’s most expensive painting Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a likely destination for the world’s most expensive painting Leonardo’s Salvator MundiCACACE AFP GETTY IMAGES
Melinda Barton | 07 December, 2017, 12:25

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.

Although Prince Badar did not respond to The Times' detailed request for comment, the Louvre in Abu Dhabi - a museum in the United Arab Emirates - tweeted Wednesday that the "Salvator Mundi" was "coming to Louvre Abu Dhabi", The Times said.

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

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This is the highest price ever paid for a work of art. Christie's said the identity of the buyer has been the most sought-after secret in the art world and beyond.

The New York Times reported Saudi Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud purchased the painting at the November 15 auction. But there is little known about Prince Bader, as he is not well-known as an art collector. The canvas will appear in Abu Dhabi.

The sale more than doubled the previous record of $179.4m paid for Pablo Picasso's The Women of Algiers (Version O) in 2015, also in NY.

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 museum opened with some 600 pieces including items from early Mesopotamia. Under a 30-year agreement, France provides expertise, lends works of art and organises exhibitions in return for one billion euros ($1.16bn). By this time, its authorship by Leonardo, origins and illustrious royal history had been forgotten, and Christ's face and hair were overpainted.

The 500-year-old painting, called Salvator Mundi - Latin for Saviour of the World - depicts Christ dressed in Renaissance-style robes, his right hand raised in blessing as his left hand holds a crystal orb. Even before becoming the world's most expensive painting, it drew huge crowds during pre-auction viewings in London, Hong Kong and San Francisco.

Its latest sale was initiated by Russian tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev, the boss of football club AS Monaco. He sued the vendor who brokered the deal for overcharging him, and now he has just sold it for $450.3 million.