Saudi prince revealed as buyer of $450mn Da Vinci painting

Saudi prince revealed as buyer of $450mn Da Vinci painting

Prince Bader is part of the Farhan branch of the royal family, which traces its lineage to an 18th-century Saudi ruler, not to King Abdulaziz ibn Saud, the founder of the modern-day kingdom.

On Wednesday, the newly opened Louvre in Abu Dhabi museum in the United Arab Emirates tweeted an announcement that the painting is "coming".

According to documents provided to the auction house and reviewed by The New York Times, Prince Bader listed that his fortune comes from "real estate".

The announcement only partially resolves the mystery over the painting's sale last month in NY for US$450.3 million, with auction house Christie's steadfastly declining to identify the buyer. The work of genius of Italian Renaissance was awarded last month by 450 million dollars, more than twice as much as almost 180 million dollars paid in 2015 by Women of Algiers (version 0), by Pablo Picasso.

It is the first of three museums slated to open on the emirate's Saadiyat Island, with plans also in place for an edition of New York's Guggenheim.

Christie's representatives attempted to identify Prince Bader and his source of finances before the sale, after he gave a $100 million deposit to qualify for the auction, The Times said.

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.

On Wednesday, the museum announced on Twitter in Arabic, English and French that the art work was heading to the Louvre in Abu Dhabi. Under a 30-year agreement, France provides expertise, lends works of art and organises exhibitions in return for one billion euros (S$1.59 billion). The Louvre in Abu Dhabi already has anor Da Vinci's wall, La Belle Ferronnière, lent by Louvre in Paris.

Salvator Mundi has a controversial history, with at least one expert doubting that it is the work of Renaissance master da Vinci.

The painting's previous owner, Dmitry E. Rybolovlev, a Russian billionaire, had paid $127.5 million for the painting in 2013, less than a third of its sale price last month, and he is still locked in litigation with the dealer who sold it to him over that price.

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