New Twists in 'Salvator Mundi' Tale as the Jesus Portrait Heads to Louvre Abu Dhabi

  • Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi

    Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi

UPDATE, Sunday: Initial reports last week that the world's most expensive painting sold to a little-known Saudi prince have raised more questions about its new ownership. Reports claimed the 32-year-old Prince Bader bought the painting on behalf of the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, a distant cousin and his friend. In a follow-up, the New York Times reported over the weekend that the Saudi Embassy in Washington now says Prince Bader bought the da Vinci, not for the crown prince, but acting as an agent to the ministry of culture of Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.

Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi' or 'Savior of the World' will be displayed in the Middle East, according to a tweet on Wednesday. Later in the day, news broke that the painting was acquired by the Saudi Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, first reported by the New York Times.

The Louvre sister museum in the United Arab Emirates delivered the news via Twitter: “Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi is coming to #LouvreAbuDhabi." No further details were given about the Renaissance work which sold for an astounding world record art price of $450.3 million at Christie's in November. The Times reports that Prince Bader will pay Christie's in six monthly installments of about $58.4 million each.

Last week, Louvre director Jean-Luc Martinez teased the art world in a French radio interview by saying he looked forward to seeing the "Salvator Mundi' and the 'Mona Lisa' together. The Louvre is planning a blockbuster da Vinci exhibition for 2019, but the loans for it have not been made public.

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Vija Celmins, Night Sky #16, 2000–01; collection SFMOMA, gift of Helen and Charles Schwab through The Art Supporting Foundation; © Vija Celmins; photo: courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery

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