Louvre Abu Dhabi Says Emirate 'Acquired' the Da Vinci Painting


The news syncs up with rumors in the commercial art world before the auction that Louvre Abu Dhabi was looking to purchase the painting, but why the reports of its buyer were misreported by major news outlets is certainly odd.

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.

However, yesterday sources in the country suggested he was buying on the behalf of the Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Instead it is the UAE that has landed the prized work which will now go on display at the museum, which is at the heart of a fast emerging cultural district in the capital.

"Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi sold for a record US$450.3 million at auction in November".

The latest twist in a saga over the painting came after a report in the Wall Street Journal which said that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as MbS, was identified as the buyer of the painting in U.S. intelligence reports, according to people with direct knowledge of the information.

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A spokeswoman for Christie's offered her congratulations to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, telling CNN that she was "delighted that the piece is going to be on view in public".

At Christie's Da Vinci auction, the salesroom was full of millionaires and billionaires, including Point72 Asset Management's Steve Cohen, Blackstone Group LP's Tom Hill, who collects Old Master works, and philanthropist Eli Broad.

Prince Mohammed, in turn, has been called an admirer of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Most who practise Islam - the state religion of Saudi Arabia - shun visual portrayals of its prophets.

Salvator Mundi, which depicts Jesus holding a crystal orb in his left hand and raising his right in blessing, is one of some 16 known surviving works painted by da Vinci.

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

Yet the identity of the successful telephone bidder has yet to be revealed, sparking intense speculation about the painting's new owner.