We acquired Leonardo's Salvator Mundi, Abu Dhabi says

Louvre Abu Dhabi

Auction house Christie's has declined to identify the buyer of the painting at the time of the auction, but media reports say it was purchased by Saudi Arabia's Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, acting through a friend and distant cousin, was the true buyer behind the purchase of Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi for a record-breaking $450.3 million, USA officials and an Arab familiar with the arrangement said on Thursday.

New York Magazine art critic Jerry Saltz argued that "one look at this painting tells me it's no Leonardo", though he admitted that he is "no art historian or any kind of expert in old masters".

The young and dynamic crown prince, known by his initials MBS, used an intermediary to buy the much-sought-after painting of Christ, "Salvator Mundi", the newspaper reported, citing U.S. intelligence and other unnamed sources.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi tweeted that the painting would be featured in the museum. Christie's auction house sold it to an anonymous buyer last month.

Although Louvre Abu Dhabi's statement appears to contradict these earlier reports, the declaration does not make it clear if the work was bought by Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism or donated to it, possibly by a Saudi Arabian prince. The work of art circulated over the years among buyers and was badly damaged.

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The highest known sale price for any artwork had been $300 million (253 million euros), for Willem de Kooning's painting "Interchange".

But "Salvator Mundi" is set to be the museum's biggest attraction.

Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World)'s $450m (£341m) price made it the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction.

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

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

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