The 500-year-old oil painting of Jesus went under the hammer in NY for a record-breaking $450 million including fees, four times over its pre-sale estimate and more than double the old mark for any work of art at auction. The rare painting of Christ, which that sold for a record $450 million, is heading to a museum in Abu Dhabi.
In response to media reports about the sale, the embassy said it contacted the office of Prince Bader, which confirmed the artwork was "acquired" by the Abu Dhabi culture department.
The question of ownership of "Salvator Mundi", the painting reputedly by Leonardo da Vinci, appears to be as complicated as its provenance and authorship, as the Louvre Abu Dhabi is now claiming the painting was acquired by the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi for the museum itself.
Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World)'s $450m (£341m) price made it the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction. The New York Times reported that the painting had been purchased by a Saudi prince called Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, a friend and associate of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, citing documents it reviewed.
While most are scattered around the world, the Louvre Abu Dhabi will now have two of these paintings. By then, though, the painting's origin had been obscured due to overpainting and it was credited to da Vinci's follower Bernardino Luini. His statement did not mention the painting or address whether he had bought it. Most who practise Islam - the state religion of Saudi Arabia - shun visual portrayals of its prophets. Under a 30-year agreement, France provides expertise, lends works of art and organises exhibitions in return for one billion euros ($1.16 billion). It displays La Belle Ferronnière, which is on loan from the Louvre in Paris, according to Bloomberg.
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Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi, ca.
A UAE government official confirmed the painting belonged to the Abu Dhabi government and would be put on display at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
It had sold for a mere £45 in 1958, when the painting was thought to have been a copy, and was lost until it resurfaced at a regional auction in 2005.
If the painting of Christ raising a hand in blessing had been bought by someone who planned to keep it in NY, the buyer would be on the hook to pay an 8.875 percent state and local sales tax, which on a $450 million purchase would amount to around $39 million (30 million euros), said Jason Kleinman, a lawyer who advises art collectors on the tax consequences of their purchases.
He had bought the painting in 2013 for $127.5 million although he later accused a Swiss art dealer of overcharging him.