$591m Da Vinci painting heads to Abu Dhabi's new Louvre

Louvre Abu Dhabi

A Leonardo da Vinci painting of Christ that sold in NY for a record $450 million (380 million euros) is heading to a museum in the United Arab Emirates. Citing intelligence reports and a Middle-East art world figures familiar with the purchase, the newspaper said that the Crown Prince had bought the Leonardo through an intermediary.

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 young and dynamic crown prince, known by his initials MBS, used an intermediary to buy the much-sought-after painting of Christ, "Salvator Mundi", the newspaper reported, citing USA intelligence and other unnamed sources.

The painting - one of fewer than 20 works generally accepted as being by the Renaissance master, according to Christie's - was bought by little-known Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, reports say. Christie's auction house sold it to an anonymous buyer last month.

The firm's website describes him as "one of Saudi Arabia's youngest" entrepreneurs, present in sectors including real estate, telecommunications and recycling.

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

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The sale more than doubled the previous record of $179.4m paid for Pablo Picasso's The Women of Algiers (Version O) in 2015, also in NY.

It only opened its doors last month, but the Louvre Abu Dhabi is already a force to be reckoned with in the art world. The work of art circulated over the years among buyers and was badly damaged.

The museum, which was recently opened in the United Arab Emirates' capital as part of a 30-year agreement between Abu Dhabi's authorities and the French government, will host the only da Vinci's painting in private hands.

Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World)'s $450m (£341m) price made it the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.

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. It was restored and authenticated, before being sold to its most recent owner, Russian businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev, for $127.5 million.

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