Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism confirmed it purchased the most expensive painting in the world. Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” was sold for $450 million. For a museum newly arrived on the world cultural scene, the painting, sold at Christie’s New York, is a game changer. The museum has revealed nothing more than a single tweet in the three languages, simply stating: “Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi is coming to Louvre Abu Dhabi.”
Some media reported that the man behind the purchase was a little-known Saudi prince named Bader bin Abdullah bin Farhan al-Saud, an associate of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Saudi Arabia has since said the prince was acting as a middleman for the United Arab Emirates, a key ally in the region.
The work, hailed as one of the greatest artistic rediscoveries of the last 100 years, will go on display at Louvre Abu Dhabi, alongside another da Vinci masterpiece, La Belle Ferronnière, which is currently on loan from musée du Louvre.
Painted by one of history’s greatest and most renowned artists, Salvator Mundi is one of fewer than 20 known surviving paintings by the Italian Renaissance master. Dating from around 1500, it is an oil on panel painting depicting a half-length figure of Christ as Saviour of the World, facing the viewer, and dressed in flowing robes of lapis and crimson. The figure holds a crystal orb in his left hand as he raises his right hand in benediction.
Manuel Rabaté, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi, said: “Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece Salvator Mundi fits perfectly into the narrative of Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first universal museum to break down the barriers between the different civilisations. It will be on display alongside our growing collection, and will be an exceptional treasure that no doubt will be enjoyed by our visitors.”