March 24, 2018

Record-breaking Leonardo painting goes to Louvre Abu Dhabi

07 December 2017, 08:43 | Winston Chapman

The Louvre Abu Dhabi has been billed as'the first universal museum in the Arab world in a sign of the oil-rich emirate's global ambitions

The Louvre Abu Dhabi has been billed as

The newly-opened Louvre Abu Dhabi made the announcement in a tweet on Wednesday, Dec. 6. It is unclear at this time when the painting will be displayed.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is getting Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi, which sold last month at a Christie's auction for US$450 million, the most ever paid for a work of art. This could be because Prince Mohammed is a supporter and ally of Abu Dhabi's crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

These acquisitions, including that of "Salvator Mundi", are likely part of a dedicated effort to raise the global cultural profile of the U.A.E.

On Wednesday, a New York Times investigation revealed the identity of the mysterious buyer, citing insider documents. Muslims do not consider Jesus a savior, but rather they believe he was a prophet. Most who practice Islam - the state region of Saudi Arabia - shun visual portrayals of its prophets.

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Auction house Christie's demanded he provide a $100 million deposit just to be confirmed as a bidder, and then sit through a rigorous process where Christie's accountants conducted due diligence on his wealth.

Prince Badar's purchase of the image of Christ comes at a time when elite Saudi's are highly concerned about an ongoing "purge" of influential national figures at the bequest of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman. It is also the only one in private hands. While most are scattered around the world, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will now have two of these paintings.

The Renaissance master's "La Belle Ferronniere", or Portrait of an Unknown Woman, done between 1495 and 1499 and recently restored, is on loan from the Musee du Louvre in Paris. By this time, its authorship by Leonardo, origins and illustrious royal history had been forgotten, and Christ's face and hair were overpainted. It sold for only 45 pounds or about $125 today, CNN reported. It took six years for scholars and historians to agree Salvator Mundi was indeed a da Vinci. Despite selling the "Salvator Mundi" painting for a world record price, Rybolovlev has not withdrawn his lawsuit against Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier.

Rybolovlev owned the painting until November 15, when Prince Bader made it the world's most expensive painting by shelling out $450,312,500 for it. Picasso's "Les Femmes d'Alger" ("Women of Algiers") held the previous record of $179,364,992.

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