$450m ‘Da Vinci painting’ heads to Louvre Abu Dhabi

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The mystery buyer who bid $450 million for Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” is a Saudi prince

Dec 7: Christie’s auction house has sold a painting, believed to have been painted by Leonardo da Vinci, for $450.3 million.

The work — entitled “Salvator Mundi”, sold on Wednesday, was painted five centuries ago and is the only painting by the Italian Renaissance polymath to be privately held, Efe news reported.

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.

Da Vinci was born in the Republic of Florence, in present-day Italy, in 1452 and died in France in 1519. There are fewer than 20 of his paintings in existence.

The painting shows Jesus Christ with one hand raised, the other holding a glass sphere.

In 1958, it was sold at auction in London for $60, BBC reported. By then the painting was generally reckoned to be the work of a follower of Leonardo and not the work of Leonardo himself.

One critic even described the surface of the painting to be “inert, varnished, lurid, scrubbed over and repainted so many times that it looks simultaneously new and old”.

A 500-year-old painting of Christ believed to be the work of Leonardo da Vinci is heading to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the museum has said.

The newly-opened museum made the announcement on Twitter, without specifying whether it had bought the painting at auction this month.

Media reports say it was purchased by a Saudi prince.

The work – known as Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World) – was sold in New York for a record $450m (£341m).

Salvator Mundi

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

The unidentified buyer was involved in a bidding contest, via telephone, that lasted nearly 20 minutes.