Saudi prince is buyer of world's dearest painting, Leonardo's Salvator Mundi

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A Leonardo da Vinci painting of Christ that sold in NY for a record 450 million dollars (£336m) is heading to a museum in the United Arab Emirates.

The painting is expected to arrive at the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, a museum in the United Arab Emirates.

Painted in oil on a wooden board measuring 18 by 26 inches, "Salvator Mundi" shows its subject gazing dreamily at the viewer, his right hand raised in benediction, while his left clutches a crystal orb.

Auction house Christie's has also steadfastly declined to identify the buyer, whose purchase in NY for $450.3 million stunned the art world.

The newspaper confirmed that the Prince Bader purchased the rare painting after citing documents it had reviewed while in the midst of an investigation into Saudi Arabia's elite class, including his family and associates. Louvre Abu Dhabi is a joint project between the French government and the city of Abu Dhabi, to which Saudi's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is a close ally.

2011, saw the dramatic public unveiling of Salvator Mundi ('Savior of the World') in the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan, at The National Gallery, London.

He is a board member of Energy Holdings International, an energy company with business in Middle East, Asia and Americas. The previous record was Pablo Picasso's Les Femmes d'Alger, which sold for $179 million.


The museum opened with some 600 pieces including items from early Mesopotamia.

The Museum already houses one of Leonardo's finest works.

The first works on loan from the Louvre in Paris include another painting by Da Vinci: La Belle Ferronniere, one of his portraits of women.

It is one of fewer than 20 paintings by the Renaissance master known to exist and the only one in private hands. By this time, its authorship by Leonardo, origins and illustrious royal history had been forgotten, and Christ's face and hair were overpainted.

When it resurfaced in 1900, it was purchased by a British collector.

The painting was sold again in 1958 and then acquired in 2005 by a consortium of art dealers who paid less than $US10,000.

In 2013, Salvator Mundi was bought by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev for $127.5 million.

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