Saudi buyer of Leonardo's Salvator Mundi has royal cash link

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Saudi Arabia's crown prince is the true buyer of the Leonardo Da Vinci painting that sold last month for a record $450 million, the Wall Street Journal reported. But on Wednesday, Louvre Abu Dhabi (which opened in November) announced the upcoming arrival of the painting on twitter.

It made the announcement via Twitter - but did not say if it had bought the painting at the NY auction last month.

It has strong links to the world famous Louvre in Paris and has borrowed 300 pieces of art from France. French President Emmanuel Macron, who described the new museum as a "bridge between civilisations." attended and officiated at the event. IBT speculates that this might be an indication that Crown Prince Mohammed is a supporter of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

The Louvre has not disclosed whether it will receive the painting as a gift, a loan or a rental.

Christie's has declined to comment on the buyer.

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He is a board member of Energy Holdings International, an energy company with business in Middle East, Asia and Americas.

Salvator Mundi was owned by King Charles I of England in the mid-1600s and was auctioned by the son of the Duke of Buckingham in 1763. By this time, its authorship by Leonardo, origins and illustrious royal history had been forgotten, and Christ's face and hair were overpainted.

The painting was sold again in 1958 and then acquired in 2005, badly damaged and partly painted over, by a consortium of art dealers who paid less than US$10,000. It disappeared once again for almost 50 years, emerging in 2005 when it was purchased from an American estate at a small regional auction house.

Da Vinci died in 1519 and there are fewer than 20 of his paintings in existence. Despite selling the "Salvator Mundi" painting for a world record price, Rybolovlev has not withdrawn his lawsuit against Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier.

'Salvator Mundi, ' which means 'Savior of the World, ' went on public display in 2011 in a dramatic unveiling at The National Gallery in London, where the work was declared to be the first newly discovered Da Vinci painting in a century. The painting's authenticity is still widely questioned by many experts, while the issue of overpainting, restoration and conservation will always be an underlying issue.

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