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Saudi Prince Revealed as Buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi'

07 December 2017, 12:27 | Taylor George

Leonardo da Vinci's “Salvator Mundi,” or “Savior of the World,” dating from around 1500. Dennis Van Tine STAR MAX

Salvator Mundi Leonardo da Vinci

The mystery buyer for the iconic painting titled "Salvator Mundi" that was sold last month at auction house Christie's in New York is Saudi royal Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, according to the New York Times.

A Leonardo da Vinci painting of Christ that sold in NY for a record $US450 million ($591 million) is heading to a museum in the United Arab Emirates.

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. However the identity of the buyer has remained an elusive secret with speculation now focusing on the Abu Dhabi Royals as the purchaser.

The New York Times reported Saudi Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud purchased the painting at the November 15 auction. French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche earlier reported that two investment firms had purchased the painting in the hope of lending it to museums.

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

Da Vinci died in 1519 and there are fewer than 20 of his paintings in existence. The new museum now houses a permanent collection of 600 artworks, with a further 300 on loan from Paris - among them another Leonardo painting, "La Belle Ferronnière".

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The museum's opening has also coincided with a period of heightened political tension in the Gulf and the broader Middle East.

This particular prince reportedly did not have a history of collecting art and was a friend of Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

"The word "masterpiece" barely begins to convey the rarity, importance and sublime beauty of Leonardo's painting", said Alan Wintermute from Christie's, the auction house that conducted the sale.

"We are pleased that the picture will be exhibited again", said Christie's spokesperson. The paper said it had seen documents confirming that Prince Bader had bought the painting. The result obliterated previous world records for an art sale of any kind, including the auction high of $179.4 million for a Pablo Picasso painting sold in 2015.

The work was sold to the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev who purchased the da Vinci painting for $127.5 million in 2013.



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