$450m 'Leonardo painting' heads to Louvre Abu Dhabi

10 December, 2017, 05:11 | Author: Diane Mills
  • Pic Reuters

United States intelligence assessments seen by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal identified Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the heir to the Saudi throne, as the buyer of the Renaissance artist's work.

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.

A Leonardo da Vinci painting of Christ that sold in NY for a record $US450 million ($591 million) is heading to a museum in the United Arab Emirates.

It constitutes the highest price that was ever paid at the auction for any work of art, beating Willem de Kooning's Interchange, a painting that was sold for $303 million in 2015.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi tweeted that the painting would be featured in the museum.

The identity of the buyer also remains a mystery, as Louvre Abu Dhabi did not specify whether it had purchased the alleged da Vinci painting. The newspaper cited documents provided from inside Saudi Arabia.

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New York Magazine art critic Jerry Saltz argued that "one look at this painting tells me it's no Leonardo", though he admitted that he is "no art historian or any kind of expert in old masters".

The first museum to bear the Louvre name outside France, The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened on November 8 in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron. Under a 30-year agreement, France provides expertise, lends works of art and organises exhibitions in return for one billion euros ($1.16bn).

The museum now features more than 600 artworks, as well as 300 masterpieces on loan from 13 French galleries that will rotate throughout the year.

The painting, only recently rediscovered, was the last da Vinci left in private hands and fetched more than four times Christie's pre-sale estimate of about $100 million.

It had sold for a mere £45 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 had bought the painting in 2013 for $127.5 million although he later accused a Swiss art dealer of overcharging him.

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