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

Louvre Abu Dhabi

Louvre Abu Dhabi

Prince Bader is a friend of Prince Mohammed and acted on his behalf, placing the winning $450.3 million bid for the painting at Christie's last month. To differentiate itself from neighboring Dubai, Abu Dhabi is targeting affluent tourists looking for culture and art and it has also built hotels, theme parks and malls.

Instead it is the UAE that has landed the prized work which will now go on display at the museum, which is at the heart of a fast emerging cultural district in the capital.

Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi", the world's most expensive painting, is headed to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, it has been revealed.

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.

The New York Times on Wednesday, citing documents it reviewed, identified the buyer as Saudi Arabia's Prince Bader Bin Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Farhan Al Saud, whose country forbids the official worship of Christ or any other religion except Islam.

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 500-year-old painting of Christ is believed to be the work of Leonardo da Vinci. His statement did not mention the painting or address whether he had bought it.

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The newspaper said that the work will be lent or resold to museums, largely in the Middle East and Asia. But on Friday, Saudi Arabia's embassy weighed in.

The island will also feature the Zayed National Museum, which had signed a loan deal with the British Museum - although the arrangement has come increasingly into question due to construction delays.

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

"We own it", the official said.

Bought a $450M painting?

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.

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