Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi is Going to the Louvre Abu Dhabi

Brunilde Fioravanti
Dicembre 7, 2017

The Louvre Abu Dhabi officially opened November 11 in the United Arab Emirates.

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

The 500-year-old painting is called "Salvator Mundi", Latin for "saviour of the world".

Prince Bader, a member of the lesser branch of the royal family, the Farhan, is a close associate of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, according to the newspaper, holding key government and corporate posts.

It was unclear if the painting was going to the Louvre Abu Dhabi on loan or if the museum purchased it outright or with other buyers. "Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi is coming to #Louvre Abu Dhabi", the museum said on its Twitter feed late Wednesday evening. As one of the seven sheikhdoms in the United Arab Emirates, and the one with the largest oil reserves, Abu Dhabi is entwined in a Saudi Arabian-led dispute with neighboring Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism.

The French weekly le Journal du Dimanche earlier reported that two investment firms were behind the painting's purchase as part of a financial arrangement involving several museums. Buyers from the Middle East and Asia have been snapping up masterpieces to fill regional museums - and pushing prices ever higher.

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 NY.

The newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi made the announcement Wednesday.

It is the first of three museums slated to open on the emirate's Saadiyat Island, with plans also in place for an edition of New York's Guggenheim. Under a 30-year agreement, France provides expertise, lends works of art and organizes exhibitions in return for one billion euros ($1.16 billion). Da Vinci's "La Belle Ferronnière" is on loan there from the Louvre in Paris.

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. Its previous owner, Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, had complained he was overcharged for the work by a Swiss art dealer when he had paid $127.5 million for it in 2013.

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