Dec 12, 2017
There’s a new destination on your Leonardo da Vinci hit list.
Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi became the most expensive painting ever sold when it was bought for US$450.3 million (around $591 million) at a Christie’s auction in November – more than four times the starting bid.
Christie’s New York put the 500-year-old painting up for auction in November.
The buyer’s identity remained anonymous for a month, with The New York Times reporting that Saudi Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud was the mystery purchaser.
But a few days later the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism confirmed it had acquired the painting and that it would go on display at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
The painting’s title is Latin for “Saviour of the World” and depicts a blue-robed Jesus Christ conducting a blessing with one hand and holding a clear orb in the other. Painted by da Vinci circa 1500, it disappeared for centuries after being owned by King Charles I and reappeared in the early 1900s in a private British collection.
Originally thought to be the work of one of the Italians master’s students, there has been some debate over its authorship. It has undergone extensive restoration over the years and leading Leonardo scholars reached a consensus that it was an authentic da Vinci in the late 2000s.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi sold for $591 million at a Christie’s New York auction.
There are fewer than 20 confirmed da Vinci works around the world.
It will find a new home at the domed Louvre Abu Dhabi, a collaboration between France and the United Arab Emirates that opened in November. Its patterned domed roof covers 55 buildings that host 23 galleries of historic and contemporary art from across the globe, including ancient Egyptian works, pieces from Jackson Pollock and Claude Monet and another painting by da Vinci on loan from the French Louvre, La Belle Ferronnière.
The museum hasn’t confirmed when the painting will go on show but tweeted that it was “looking forward to displaying the Salvator Mundi by Leonardo Da Vinci”.
Photography credit: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Christie's Auction House (close up); TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images (top image); Courtesy Christie’s New York/Handout via REUTERS (auction)