A senior Abu Dhabi official said the Gulf emirate has paid the right price to acquire Leonardo da Vinci’s $450 million painting “Salvator Mundi,” to be displayed at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
“We worked very closely with the broker on this piece and we bid on it and it was acquired, thank God, with the price we felt it was right for,” Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture & Tourism, said on Monday at the Bloomberg Invest conference.
“It’s an exceptional piece,” he said. “A lot of us wait for something astonishing, astonishing doesn’t happen everyday.”
He commented three days after the Saudi embassy in Washington said Prince Badr Al Saud acted as an intermediary to help the Abu Dhabi department buy the painting at a Christie’s auction.
The New York Times reported that the painting had been purchased by a Saudi prince called Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, a friend and associate of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Wall Street Journal said the buyer was a proxy for the crown prince.
The painting, which depicts Jesus Christ holding a glass ball in one hand, was sold at Christie’s by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev on Nov. 15.
“We have been eyeing this piece for some time,” Al Mubarak said. “We have seen first hand what Da Vinci means for any museum.”
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