Abu Dhabi says it owns ‘Salvator Mundi’ amid refuted New York Times report

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The Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opened last month, said on its Twitter feed it was “looking forward to displaying the Salvator Mundi by Leonardo Da Vinci” and said the work was acquired by the Department of Culture and Tourism for the museum.

Salvator Mundi, sold for $450.3 million, is an ethereal portrait of Jesus Christ, which dates to about 1500.

Saudi Prince Badr bin Farhan al-Saud had recently been rumored to have bought the painting, which the Prince's office denied.

A New York Times report had cited unnamed sources “familiar with the Saudi royal family” who had “presumed” that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was funding Prince Badr’s bid.

Prince Badr, in a statement published Thursday by pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat said he had “read with great surprise the report published about me in The New York Times newspaper and the strange and inaccurate information it contained.”

According to Reuters news agency, a UAE government official confirmed the painting belonged to the Abu Dhabi government and would be put on display at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

“We own it,” the official said.

Meanwhile, a Saudi official told Reuters: “Contrary to media reports, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman did not purchase this art piece.”

The official added that the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism had subsequently asked Prince Badr to act “as an intermediary purchaser.”

The painting, only recently rediscovered, was the last da Vinci left in private hands and fetched more than four times Christie’s pre-sale estimate of about $100 million.

(With Reuters)

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