$450M Leonardo painting heading to new Louvre museum

$450M Leonardo painting heading to new Louvre museum

$450M Leonardo painting heading to new Louvre museum

Despite Prince Bader's relatively obscure status, he is seen as a close friend of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and has become more prominent in the kingdom since the crown prince's ascension.

Prince Bader belonged to a remote branch of the royal family and had no history of being an art collector, according to a report by the New York Times.

Abu Dhabi opened its Louvre last month, positioning itself as a city of cultural tourism with a display of hundreds of works that it hopes will draw visitors from around the world.

The Times said the huge purchase comes at a curious time for Saudi Arabia when Prince Mohammed cracked down on more than 200 of the richest Saudi princes, businessmen, and government officials after the country had been pressed by low oil prices.

Bader is one of more than 5,000 princes in Saudi Arabia.

Badar was reportedly so unknown to Christie's - the auction house in New York City that sold the painting - that the officials at the art house were still trying to confirm the prince's identity even after he made a $100 million deposit to qualify for the auction. The nature of the painting - a rendition of Christ - and the timing of the purchase - less than two weeks after the corruption purge - calls into question whether the Crown Prince has been selectively targeting people in the crackdown, The Times reported.

The highest known sale price for any artwork had been 300 million dollars (£224), for Willem de Kooning's painting "Interchange".

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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.

"Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi is coming to #Louvre Abu Dhabi", the museum said on its Twitter feed late Wednesday evening.

The Museum already houses one of Leonardo's finest works.

The work was sold to the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev who purchased the da Vinci painting for $127.5 million in 2013.

It is one of fewer than 20 paintings by the Renaissance master known to exist and the only one in private hands.

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. He sued the vendor who brokered the deal for overcharging him, and now he has just sold it for $450.3 million.

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