$450M Leonardo painting heading to new Louvre museum

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Christie's declined to say whether the museum bought the painting. The Louvre Abu Dhabi did not specify when the Salvator Mundi would go on show at the museum.

The post displayed an image of the 500-year-old work but did not identify its owner.

But there's still no public information on who purchased the painting at the record-setting auction in November, when the controversial artwork went for $450.3 million U.S. at Christie's, making it the most expensive painting ever sold. France agreed to lease paintings from its own museums to the Louvre in Abu Dhabi in 2007 for a sum from $800 million to $1 billion.

The New York Times reports according to documents it reviewed the mystery buyer was a little-known Saudi prince.

Finally, the splashy purchase came just as Saudi Arabia's 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was leading a "sweeping crackdown against corruption and self-enrichment" among the country's elite, as the Times noted.

Prince Mohammed is in turn believed to be close to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nayhan.

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The French weekly le Journal du Dimanche earlier reported that two investment firms were behind the painting's purchase as part of a financial arrangement involving several museums. As one of the seven sheikhdoms in the United Arab Emirates, and the one with the largest oil reserves, Abu Dhabi is entwined in a Saudi Arabian-led dispute with neighboring Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism.

It was said that the work will be lent or resold to museums, largely in the Middle East and Asia. The previous record was Pablo Picasso's Les Femmes d'Alger, which sold for $179 million.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi announced via Twitter in English, French and Arabic on Wednesday that the famed Da Vinci painting "is coming to" the gallery.

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.

Dating from the 1500s, the painting was billed as the final Leonardo work held in private hands, one of roughly 20 paintings attributed to him.

During last month's auction, Salvator Mundi or Savior of the World was described by Alan Wintermute, a spokesperson for Christie's auction house, as the greatest art discovery of the 21 century. It now displays "La Belle Ferronnière", which is on loan from the Louvre in Paris, according to Bloomberg. The painting was sold again in 1958 and then acquired in 2005 by a group of art dealers for less than $10,000. Rybolovlev bought it in 2013 for $127.5 million from art dealer Yves Bouvier along with some other canvases.

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