$450M Da Vinci Painting Heads to Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum
09 December, 2017, 13:46 | Author: Kristine Mills
However the identity of the buyer has remained an elusive secret with speculation now focusing on the Abu Dhabi Royals as the purchaser.
If the painting of Christ raising a hand in blessing had been bought by someone who planned to keep it in NY, the buyer would be on the hook to pay an 8.875 percent state and local sales tax, which on a $450 million purchase would amount to around $39 million (30 million euros), said Jason Kleinman, a lawyer who advises art collectors on the tax consequences of their purchases. The New York Times reported earlier that documents showed another member of the royal family, Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, placed the final bid.
Prince Bader, a friend of Saudi Arabia's young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is not known as a major art collector, but has extensive dealings in the real estate, telecommunications, and recycling industries in Saudi Arabia, according to his profile on the website of the company Energy Holdings International, on whose board of directors he once served.
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.
That's according to USA intelligence officials who keep a close eye on the kingdom's young and powerful crown prince, says the Wall Street Journal. But intelligence officials say Bader was just a proxy for crown prince Mohammed. "All these rich guys are detained in the hotel and this guy pops up and signs a check for $450 million?"
Prince Bader did not present himself as a bidder until the day before the auction.
Christie's representatives attempted to identify Prince Bader and his source of finances before the sale, after he gave a $100 million deposit to qualify for the auction, The Times said. The museum tweeted Friday that the painting had been acquired for the museum by the government's tourism and culture department.
The choice of painting is also curious.
Christie's said that most scholars, however, still believe that the Salvator Mundi they recently sold was the one painted by da Vinci. Saudi Arabia adheres to a strict form of Islam which shuns visual portrayals of religious figures.
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.
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