Culture

Saudi prince is buyer of world's dearest painting, Leonardo's Salvator Mundi

Saudi prince is buyer of world's dearest painting, Leonardo's Salvator Mundi”

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is getting Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi, which sold last month at a Christie's auction for US$450 million, the most ever paid for a work of art.

Alex Rotter, the auction house's co-chairman of post-war and contemporary art in the Americas, represented the anonymous buyer of the Da Vinci and placed the winning bid after a spellbinding 19-minute contest that saw offers at US$200 million, US$300 million and US$350 million fall short.

It is believed the prince will be lending the Leonardo to the museum in Abu Dhabi.

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The paper said it had seen documents confirming that Prince Bader had bought the painting.

Prince Mohammed, in turn, has been called an admirer of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are close allies. The previous record was Pablo Picasso's Les Femmes d'Alger, which sold for $179 million.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi, which is affiliated with the Paris original, opened in November, costing more than $1.3 billion to construct.

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.

The museum opened with some 600 pieces including items from early Mesopotamia.

It was the highest auction price for any work of art.

"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.

The painting is one of fewer than 20 paintings by da Vinci known to exist and the only one in private hands.

The painting, which was part of the collection of King Charles I of England (1600-1649), had ended up in the hands of a Russian billionaire, who bought it in 2013 for $127.5 million.



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