$450 million Leonardo painting coming to new Louvre Abu Dhabi

$450 million Leonardo painting coming to new Louvre Abu Dhabi

Some of the mystery surrounding the most expensive painting ever sold at auction was solved Wednesday when it emerged that Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi is to be displayed at Louvre Abu Dhabi. "Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi is coming to #LouvreAbuDhabi". Christie's declined to comment on the report. He sued the vendor who brokered the deal for overcharging him, and now he has just sold it for $450.3 million.

The work was exhibited in Hong Kong, San Francisco, London and NY before the sale by Christie's auction house. Buyers from the Middle East and Asia have been snapping up masterpieces to fill regional museums in China and the Middle East.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi - a franchise of the Paris original - is a symbol of the oil-rich sheikhdom's drive to boost its "soft power" credentials.

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

It holds 600 artworks permanently and 300 loaned from France.

The museum's opening has also coincided with a period of heightened political tension in the Gulf and the broader Middle East.

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Featuring a vast silver-toned dome, the Louvre Abu Dhabi was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, drawing inspiration from Arab design and evoking both an open desert and the sea.

Salvator Mundi, which means Saviour 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, 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.

"We are pleased that the picture will be exhibited again", said Christie's spokesperson.

The unidentified buyer was involved in a bidding contest, via telephone, that lasted almost 20 minutes. He is not known for being an art collector or incredibly wealthy, and documents viewed by the Times show that he was such a non-entity in the art scene that Christie's had to quickly figure out right before the auction if he was eligible to bid.

He described the artwork as, "The Holy Grail of old master paintings".

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