$450m 'Da Vinci painting' heads to Louvre Abu Dhabi

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

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

Update, 12/6/2017, 6:30pm EST: The New York Times is reporting that Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, a Saudi prince, has been identified as the buyer of Leonardo's "Salvator Mundi".

Prince Mohammed, in turn, has been called an admirer of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are close allies.

Believed to be the last Da Vinci in private hands, Salvator Mundi commanded four times what Christie's had projected even as sceptics questioned its authenticity.

Bader, a Saudi Arabian prince from a remote branch of the royal family, coughed up the record-shattering sum for the centuries-old painting of Jesus Christ in order to hang it in the newly opened branch of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi. The previous record was Pablo Picasso's Les Femmes d'Alger, which sold for $179 million.

Bader made the record-breaking offer for "Salvator Mundi" after 19 minutes of dueling with four other bidders at Christie's auction house in Manhattan on November 15.

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.

News that the painting will turn up at the Louvre Abu Dhabi does not resolve the mystery surrounding the identity of the buyer or buyers, though some had speculated that it was acquired by an Emirati museum or collector. The Louvre is planning a blockbuster da Vinci exhibition for 2019, but the loans for it have not been made public.

Lost for years only to resurface at a regional auction in 2005, it is one of fewer than 20 Da Vinci paintings generally accepted as being from the Renaissance master's own hand, according to auction house Christie's.

In 1958, it was sold at auction in London for $60, BBC reported.

He had bought the painting in 2013 for $127.5m although he later accused a Swiss art dealer of overcharging him.