Abu Dhabi to acquire Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi, says Christie's

Abu Dhabi to acquire Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi, says Christie's

It's the first statement from the auction house about the acquirer of the work, which sold for a record $450 million. The museum appeared to confirm this, tweeting on Wednesday that, "Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi is coming to #LouvreAbuDhabi".

Making a record-breaking art purchase in his own name might be awkward for the Crown Prince because he is leading a sweeping crackdown on corruption and self-enrichment by the elite of the kingdom, including some of his royal cousins.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi which opened last month and now will house Leonardo's Salvator Mundi.

According to the New York Times, the painting's buyer was not the museum but an outside party: one Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, a "little-known" Saudi Arabian prince with no history as an art collector. Most who practise Islam - the state religion of Saudi Arabia - shun visual portrayals of its prophets.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman reached a $4.28 million (3.6 million euro) settlement previous year with New York's Gagosian Gallery over unpaid taxes on art sales.

The declaration came the day after the Wall Street Journal reported that the person who had purchased the Renaissance painting at Christie's NY last month for a staggering $450m was the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

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A spokeswoman for Christie's offered her congratulations to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, telling CNN that she was "delighted that the piece is going to be on view in public".

Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi painting has been shrouded in mystery ever since the 16th century creation - one of less than 20 known paintings by the master artist - resurfaced in 2005 at an American estate sale.

A UAE government official confirmed the painting belonged to the Abu Dhabi government and would be put on display at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

In 2013, a consortium of dealers including Simon, Parish and Warren Adelson sold Salvator Mundi for US$80 million to a company owned by a Swiss businessman and art dealer Yves Bouvier, Bloomberg reported.

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.