First Published: 2017-12-07

Da Vinci sold for $450 mn heading to Louvre Abu Dhabi
UAE museum tweets Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi is coming to Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Middle East Online

Sold last month in New York for $450.3 million

ABU DHABI - "Salvator Mundi," a painting of Christ by Leonardo Da Vinci recently sold for a record $450 million, is heading to the Louvre Abu Dhabi in a coup for the bold new museum, it announced Wednesday.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first museum to bear the Louvre name outside France, has been billed as "the first universal museum in the Arab world" in a sign of the oil-rich emirate's global ambitions.

"Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi is coming to #LouvreAbuDhabi," the museum said on Twitter in Arabic, English and French, displaying an image of the 500-year-old work.

The announcement only partially resolves the mystery over the painting's sale last month in New York for $450.3 million, with auction house Christie's steadfastly declining to identify the buyer.

"Congratulations," Christie's said in a tweeted reply to the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

But the auction house said no more, with a Christie's representative reached by AFP declining to offer more details on the identity of the record bidder.

The French weekly le Journal du Dimanche reported that two investment firms were behind the purchase as part of a financial arrangement involving several museums.

The newspaper said that the work will be lent or resold to museums, largely in the Middle East and Asia.

The sale more than doubled the previous record of $179.4 million paid for Pablo Picasso's "The Women of Algiers (Version O)" in 2015, also in New York.

- High ambitions in Abu Dhabi -

The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened on November 8 in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron, who described the new museum as a "bridge between civilisations."

It is the first of three museums slated to open on the emirate's Saadiyat Island, with plans also in place for an edition of New York's Guggenheim.

The island will also feature the Zayed National Museum, which had signed a loan deal with the British Museum -- although the arrangement has come increasingly into question due to construction delays.

Featuring a vast silver-toned dome, the Louvre Abu Dhabi was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, drawing inspiration from Arab design and evoking both an open desert and the sea.

The museum opened with some 600 pieces including items from early Mesopotamia. Under a 30-year agreement, France provides expertise, lends works of art and organizes exhibitions in return for one billion euros ($1.16 billion).

The first works on loan from the Louvre in Paris include another painting by Da Vinci -- "La Belle Ferronniere," one of his portraits of women.

- Recently authenticated -

"Salvator Mundi," which means "Savior of the World," went on public display in 2011 in a dramatic unveiling at The National Gallery in London, where the work was declared to be the first newly discovered Da Vinci painting in a century.

It is one of fewer than 20 paintings generally accepted as being from the Renaissance master's own hand, according to Christie's.

It had sold for a mere 45 British pounds in 1958, when the painting was thought to have been a copy, and was lost until it resurfaced at a regional auction in 2005.

Its latest sale was initiated by Russian tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev, the boss of football club AS Monaco.

He had bought the painting in 2013 for $127.5 million although he later accused a Swiss art dealer of overcharging him.

 

UN Security Council lenient to Turkey’s Syria offensive

Washington probes Hezbollah ‘narcoterrorism’

Tillerson to present US strategy on Syria to European, Arab allies

Russia pension funds may invest in Aramco IPO

Iranian woman skydiver looks to break down stereotypes

Qaeda leader calls on Muslims to attack Jews, Americans over Jerusalem

Palestinians in occupied West Bank get 3G

Turkish army clashes with Kurdish militia amid US alarm

Turkey arrests dozens accused of ‘terror propaganda’

Three French female jihadists face possible death penalty in Iraq

Women journalists protest separation during Pence visit to Jerusalem

Egypt military accuses presidential hopeful of committing crimes

Israeli minister calls to ban author praising Palestinian teen

Qatar supports Turkey’s offensive against Kurds

World powers meet on Syria chemical attacks

Morocco's king appoints five new ministers

Pence pledges US embassy move by end of 2019 on Jerusalem trip

Russia calls for diplomatic solution to Yemen conflict

Russia invites Kurds to join Syria peace process

Turkey shells Kurdish targets in northern Syria

Closer look at pro-Ankara rebels amassing around Afrin

Pence set for Palestinian snub

Abbas to ask EU to recognise Palestinian state

Saudi-led coalition to give $1.5 bln in Yemen aid

Mattis: Turkey gave US advance warning on Syria operation

Yemen releases budget for first time in three years

Saudi calls for cooperation between OPEC, non-OPEC countries

France presses Turkey to end offensive against Kurds

The changing faces of al-Qaeda in Syria

Kurdish militia fire rockets at Turkish town

Moroccans wary depreciation of dirham could raise cost of living, despite benefits

Deserted streets, terrified civilians after Turkey attacks Afrin

Iraqi, Kurdish leaders hold talks on bitter regional dispute

Russia-led Syria peace congress to be held January 30

Turkey launches new strikes on Kurdish targets in Syria

Egypt's Sisi says will stand for re-election

Pence heads to Mideast despite Muslim, Christian anger

Assad regime says Syria a 'tourist' destination

Journalists arrested while reporting Sudan protests

Aid for millions of Palestinians hostage to politics

Lebanon thwarts holiday attacks using IS informant

Mortar fire wounds 14 in Syria mental hospital

Turkish military fires on Kurdish forces in Syria's Afrin

More than 32,000 Yemenis displaced in intensified fighting

UN warns of "lost generation" in South Sudan's grinding conflict