Louvre Abu Dhabi Claims They Own Leonardo's "Salvator Mundi"

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The Louvre Abu Dhabi said in a tweet Wednesday: "Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi is coming to #LouvreAbuDhabi". Since then, the identity of the buyer has been the most sought-after secret.

The news syncs up with rumors in the commercial art world before the auction that Louvre Abu Dhabi was looking to purchase the painting, but why the reports of its buyer were misreported by major news outlets is certainly odd.

Christie declined to comment on a report in the Wall Street Journal yesterday that said the painting was purchased by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. Perhaps it was donated to the museum by a Saudi buyer?

Media reports say it was purchased by a Saudi prince.

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.

The organization behind the museum became one of the most aggressive buyers on the global art market over the last decade. The rare painting of Christ, which that sold for a record $450 million, is heading to a museum in Abu Dhabi. It displays La Belle Ferronnière, which is on loan from the Louvre in Paris, according to Bloomberg.

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The museum's opening has also coincided with a period of heightened political tension in the Gulf and the broader Middle East.

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.

But unless he decides to hang the work in a Manhattan pied-a-terre, or ships it using a certain type of carrier, he'll likely be spared the roughly $39 million in sales taxes a regular New Yorker would have to pay for buying a work of art at that price at a local poster shop.

The 500-year-old painting of Christ is believed to be the work of Leonardo da Vinci.

New York-based art collector and da Vinci expert Robert Simon and art dealer Alexander Parish found the painting in Louisiana in 2005 and purchased it for US$10,000.

The Italian Renaissance artist's "Salvator Mundi" sold for $450 million (380 million euros) during a record-breaking auction at Christie's last month by a Saudi prince and appears to be headed for display in a museum.

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