Culture&Arts

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

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

"Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi is coming to #Louvre Abu Dhabi", the museum said on its Twitter feed late Wednesday evening.

The organization behind the museum became one of the most aggressive buyers on the global art market over the last decade.

Christie's said the artwork will be going to the museum, but declined to say whether the Louvre Abu Dhabi bought the painting. While most are scattered around the world, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will now have two of these paintings.

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

During last month's auction, Salvator Mundi or Savior of the World was described by Alan Wintermute, a spokesperson for Christie's auction house, as the greatest art discovery of the 21 century.

Finally, the splashy purchase came just as Saudi Arabia's 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was leading a "sweeping crackdown against corruption and self-enrichment" among the country's elite, as the Times noted.

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Prince Mohammed, in turn, has been called an admirer of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

He described the facility, an offshoot of the famous Paris art museum situated in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, as a "bridge between civilizations". Buyers from the Middle East and Asia have been snapping up masterpieces to fill regional museums - and pushing prices ever higher. Now the painting that far surpassed the former record held by Picasso's Women of Algiers (which fetched $179.4 million in 2015) has found a new home.

The newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi made the announcement on Wednesday.

Featuring a vast silver-toned dome, the Louvre Abu Dhabi was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, drawing inspiration from Arab design and evoking both an open desert and the sea. Under a 30-year agreement, France provides expertise, lends works of art and organises exhibitions in return for one billion euros ($1.16bn).

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.

Depicting a half-length, front-facing Christ figure grasping a crystal orb in one hand, with the other raised in a gesture of benediction, the work was put up for sale by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who had purchased it in 2013.


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