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Record-breaking Leonardo painting goes to Louvre Abu Dhabi
07 December 2017, 12:25 | Opal Carroll
Leonardo da Vinci's “Salvator Mundi,” or “Savior of the World,” dating from around 1500. Dennis Van Tine STAR MAX
1500, sold for $450.3 million at Christie's last month.
A Saudi Arabian prince is the mysterious buyer who paid a record-breaking $450.3 million for Leonardo da Vinci's painting of Jesus Christ.
Ever since the sale at Christie's, the identity of the buyer has been the most sought-after secret in the art world and beyond.
The museum was inaugurated only the week before the auction and is believed to have cost a combined figure of over $1bn to build and secure usage of the Louvre name.
The New York Times reported Saudi Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud purchased the painting at the November 15 auction.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi - a franchise of the Paris original - is a symbol of the oil-rich sheikhdom's drive to boost its "soft power" credentials.
The organization behind the museum became one of the most aggressive buyers on the global art market over the last decade. 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.
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Bidding was strong for the Leonardo da Vinci painting.
The museum's opening has also coincided with a period of heightened political tension in the Gulf and the broader Middle East.
The museum tweeted that "Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi is coming to #LouvreAbuDhabi", which was confirmed by Christie's, the auction house that handled the sale of the painting.
Christie's representatives attempted to identify Prince Bader and his source of finances before the sale, after he gave a $100 million deposit to qualify for the auction, The Times said. It was sold for just thousands in 2005 but was bought again in 2013 for $127.5 million by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev.
'Salvator Mundi, ' which means 'Savior of the World, ' went on public display in 2011 in a dramatic unveiling at The National Gallery in London, where the work was declared to be the first newly discovered Da Vinci painting in a century.
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.
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