Christie's Confirms Abu Dhabi Culture Arm Acquires Da Vinci

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The announcement comes less than a month after the Louvre Abu Dhabi - the Paris institution's first outpost outside France - opened its doors.

Louvre Abu Dhabi has confirmed it will display Salvator Mundi by Leonardo Da Vinci after the $450 million (Dh1.65 billion) artwork was bought by the government at auction. "This is in line with our ambition to share this extraordinary museum with the world, and our mission to inspire a new generation of cultural leaders and creative thinkers to contribute to our rapidly-changing and tolerant nation".

Bought a $450M painting?

Another day and another high-profile buyer has emerged for the record USD450 million purchase of Leonardo Da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi".

Believed to be the last Da Vinci in private hands, "Salvator Mundi" commanded four times what Christie's had projected and the most ever paid for a work of art, even as skeptics questioned its authenticity. That probably won't happen if the painting is shipped to the Middle East.

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Apparently, the confusion over its owner stems from the fact that a Saudi prince did indeed make the winning bid on the painting, but he was doing so as a representative for the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism.

Its latest sale was initiated by Russian tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev, the boss of football club AS Monaco. "The caveat is that NY has very particular rules about how a painting needs to be shipped out of the city". While it was reported yesterday that the painting was purchased by a Saudi prince, it turns out that it was actually acquired by Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism. NY state authorities say purchases by out-of-state buyers who use specialized art shippers as opposed to common freight carriers like UPS or FedEx are subject to sales tax.

When he placed the required US$100 million to participate in the Christie's auction, lawyers from the auction house asked how he acquired the money, according to documents obtained by the Times.

Today, Christie's revealed the official buyer. As part of that settlement, the gallery created its own shipping division so it could legally avoid incurring tax liability.

Schneiderman's office had no comment on the sale of "Salvator Mundi", Latin for "Savior of the World".