Abu Dhabi Louvre to Show $450 Million Leonardo Painting

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December 8, 2017

The Leonardo painting that shattered a record recently will soon be on display in Abu Dhabi.

Salvator Mundi, which sold recently for $450 million at a Christie's auction in New York, will hang on the wall in the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opened in November 2017. The museum has not said whether the painting will be on permanent display.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first such named museum outside France, already owns 600 artworks and has displayed 300 other artworks, on loan from other owners.

The museum is on Saadiyat Island. Officials also plan to open an extension of the Guggenheim Museum and the Zayed National Museum, which has a loan deal with the British Museum.

The buyer of the painting conducted bidding anonymously by phone. Only recently has a news source reported the identity: The New York Times recently named the buyer as Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, a Saudi prince said to be a friend of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The painting, Salvator Mundi, was created about the same time as the Mona Lisa, art historians believe, but had private owners for centuries before being rediscovered in 1900. Officials said that the price paid for the painting in a 1958 Christie's auction was $60. The painting was identified as Leonardo's work only in 2011.

The previous owner, Russian investor Dmitry Rybolovlev, had consented to exhibitions of the painting in Hong Kong, London, New York, and San Francisco before the auction. More than 27,000 people viewed the painting on the exhibition tour.

Rybolovlev said that he paid $127.5 million when he bought it from a Swiss dealer who had paid $80 million at a Sotheby's auction in 2011, soon after the painting was identified as a Leonardo.

Christie's had estimated a final sale price of $100 million.

The previous Christie's auction record was $181 million, for Pablo Picasso's Women of Algiers, in 2015. The highest amount paid for a painting in a private sale is thought to be just more than $300 million, for Willem de Kooning's Interchange, also in 2015.

The painting is of Jesus. The English translation of the title is "Savior of the World."

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