$450m Da Vinci painting bound for Louvre Abu Dhabi

$450m Da Vinci painting bound for Louvre Abu Dhabi

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, acting through a friend and distant cousin, was the true buyer behind the purchase of Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi for a record-breaking $450.3 million, US officials and an Arab familiar with the arrangement said on Thursday. Christie's declined to comment on the report.

Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism has confirmed that it bought the $450m Salvator Mundi painting for the state's new Louvre gallery.

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

The announcement only partially resolves the mystery over the painting's sale last month in NY for $450.3m, with auction house Christie's steadfastly declining to identify the buyer. 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.

It only opened its doors last month, but the Louvre Abu Dhabi is already a force to be reckoned with in the art world.

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The reports come shortly after the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia announced the formation of a new military and economic committee, separate from the Gulf Cooperation Council. Under a 30-year agreement, France provides expertise, lends works of art and organizes exhibitions in return for one billion euros ($1.16 billion).

The first works on loan from the Louvre in Paris include another painting by Da Vinci: La Belle Ferronniere, one of his portraits of women.

The painting, only recently rediscovered, was the last da Vinci left in private hands and fetched more than four times Christie's pre-sale estimate of about $100 million.

The painting by the Italian Renaissance master grabbed headlines when it was sold for a record-breaking price at Christie's auction house in NY.

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

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