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A Saudi prince is the mystery buyer of the $450 mn Da Vinci

The identity of the buyer has been the most sought-after secret in the art world and beyond


salvador mundi
Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” has been bought by the Louvre Abu Dhabi

The is getting Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi,” which sold last month at a Christie’s auction for $450 million, the most ever paid for a work of art.

Christie’s said the artwork will be going to the museum, but declined to say whether the bought the painting. The said in a tweet Wednesday: “Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi is coming to #LouvreAbuDhabi.”

The New York Times reported later Wednesday that Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al Saud was the buyer, citing documents it reviewed. Christie’s declined to comment on the report.

Ever since the sale at Christie’s, the identity of the buyer has been the most sought-after secret in the art world and beyond. Buyers from the Middle East and Asia have been snapping up masterpieces to fill regional museums — and pushing prices ever higher.

The — a franchise of the Paris original — is a symbol of the oil-rich sheikhdom’s drive to boost its “soft power” credentials. To differentiate itself from neighbouring Dubai, Abu Dhabi is targeting affluent tourists looking for culture and art and it has also built hotels, theme parks and malls.

The organisation behind the museum became one of the most aggressive buyers on the global art market over the last decade. It opened last month with more than 600 artworks for its permanent collection, including such Old Master paintings as Giovanni Bellini’s “Madonna and Child.” Da Vinci’s “La Belle Ferronnière” is on loan there from the Louvre in Paris.

The museum’s opening has also coincided with a period of heightened political tension in the Gulf and the broader Middle East. 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 Arabian-led dispute with neighbouring Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism.

First Published: Thu, December 07 2017. 22:30 IST