Da Vinci sold for $450 mn is headed to Louvre Abu Dhabi

"Salvator Mundi," which was sold at auction for a record $450 million, is one of fewer than 20 paintings generally accepted as being from Leonardo Da Vinci's own hand | © AFP/File | Tolga Akmen

Abu Dhabi (AFP) | 6 December 2017 21:22

The Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first museum to bear the Louvre name outside France, has been billed as “the first universal museum in the Arab world” in a sign of the oil-rich emirate’s global ambitions.

“Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi is coming to #LouvreAbuDhabi,” the museum said on Twitter in Arabic, English and French, displaying an image of the 500-year-old work.

The announcement partially resolves the mystery over the painting’s sale last month in New York for $450.3 million.

Auction house Christie’s had declined to identify the buyer, only saying that it received bids from around the world.

The sale more than doubled the previous record of $179.4 million paid for Pablo Picasso’s “The Women of Algiers (Version O)” in 2015, also in New York.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened last month, a vast silver-toned dome designed by French architect Jean Nouvel that draws inspiration from Arab architecture.

The museum opened with some 600 pieces. Under a 30-year agreement, France provides expertise, lends works of art and organizes exhibitions in return for one billion euros ($1.16 billion).

“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.

It is one of fewer than 20 paintings generally accepted as being from the Renaissance master’s own hand, according to Christie’s.

It had sold for a mere 45 British pounds in 1958, when the painting was thought to have been a copy, and was lost until it resurfaced at a regional auction in 2005.

Its latest sale was initiated by Russian tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev, the boss of football club AS Monaco.

He had bought the painting in 2013 for $127.5 million although he later accused a Swiss art dealer of overcharging him.

© 2017 AFP

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