Last month, Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi (ca. 1500) made international headlines when it sold at Christie’s for $450.3 million. That made the painting the most expensive work ever sold at auction. Since then, many have speculated about the mystery bidder who took home the work; no one has revealed the owner yet. (In the hours after this post was published, it was reported that the Saudi prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud bought the work.) Now, some of the first clues about where the work will end up have been revealed.
In an Instagram post earlier today, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the new Emirati branch of the Parisian museum that opened last month, said that Salvator Mundi is on its way to the museum. Later, on Twitter, the museum revealed that it had, in fact, acquired the work through Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism.
Christie’s has said the work is a commission from King Louis XII of France and his wife, Anne of Brittany, but some specialists and critics have cast doubt on whether it really is one of the few known Leonardo works in existence. The painting was initially sold for just £45 at Sotheby’s in London in 1958, although the work was not attributed to Leonardo at that time. It was later considered a copy of a Leonardo painting, and then after it was restored, in 2011, it was authenticated as a true Leonardo. Following a showing at London’s National Gallery of Art, it was sold to Yves Bouvier for around $80 million. Bouvier then sold it to Dmitry Rybolovlev, the embattled Russian businessman, for $127.5 million.
Update, 12/8/17, 10:45 a.m.: This post has been updated to reflect that the Louvre Abu Dhabi has officially acquired the painting, and that Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud bought the work at auction.