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Art & Museums

$450 million Leonardo painting heading to new Louvre museum

| Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, 9:39 p.m.
This one might be a little out of your price range: An employee poses with Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi' on display at Christie's auction rooms in London. The rare painting of Christ, which that sold for a record $450 million, is heading to a museum in Abu Dhabi.
This one might be a little out of your price range: An employee poses with Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi' on display at Christie's auction rooms in London. The rare painting of Christ, which that sold for a record $450 million, is heading to a museum in Abu Dhabi.

NEW YORK — A Leonardo da Vinci painting of Christ that sold in New York for a record $450 million is heading to a museum in the United Arab Emirates.

The newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi made the announcement Wednesday.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi — a franchise of the Paris original — is a symbol of the oil-rich sheikhdom's drive to boost its "soft power" credentials. To differentiate itself from neighboring Dubai, Abu Dhabi is targeting affluent tourists looking for culture and art and it has also built hotels, theme parks and malls.

The 500-year-old painting is called "Salvator Mundi," Latin for "Savior of the World." It's one of fewer than 20 paintings by the Renaissance master known to exist and the only one in private hands. Christie's auction house sold it to an anonymous buyer last month.

Believed to be the last Da Vinci in private hands, "Salvator Mundi" commanded four times what Christie's had projected even as skeptics questioned its authenticity. The seller was Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who purchased it for $127.5 million in 2013.

"We are delighted that the work will again be on public view," a Christie's spokesperson said of the record-setting painting.

The New York Times reports according to documents it reviewed the mystery buyer was a little-known Saudi prince. Christie's says it doesn't comment on the identities of buyers or sellers without their permission.

The highest known sale price for any artwork had been $300 million, for Willem de Kooning's painting "Interchange."

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