The $450 million painting will soon be on display at the new Louvre Abu Dhabi museum

The epicentre of the art world was focused squarely on Christie’s in New York last month. The Salvator Mundi, a painting of Jesus Christ by Leonardo da Vinci, was sold to an anonymous buyer for a record $450 million making it the most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction.

On Wednesday last week, the New York Times reported that a Saudi Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud was indeed the mysterious buyer of the prized artwork. However, by Friday the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi announced that it had acquired the painting.

In a separate tweet, Abu Dhabi’s all-new Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum that recently opened to the public confirmed via its Twitter account that the Salvator Mundi will soon be on display at the museum.

It is believed that there are fewer than 20 paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, and this one is the only one which is privately owned. Commissioned by King Louis XII of France in the 1500s, and then subsequently owned by King Charles I, it went missing for several decades until it mysteriously resurfaced in 1900. In 1958, believing this to be a work of the Renaissance master’s disciple rather than the master himself, it was sold for a meagre $60 and went missing again until it finally resurfaced in 2005 where it was sold at an estate auction in America for $10,000.

By then the painting was in a state of ruin. A team of experts set out to painstakingly restore it was finally unveiled it to the public in 2011. In 2013, Paris art dealer Yves Bouvier bought the painting for around $77million and sold it to Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolev for $127 million. It was Rybolev who consigned the painting to Christie’s which then auctioned it last month for the jaw-slacking $450 million.

After the Louvre Abu Dhabi tweeted about the news of the painting which features Christ in a Renaissance-style robe holding an orb in his left hand and his right hand raised in a sign of benediction coming to its facility, Christie’s replied to the tweet congratulating the museum.

For a painting that is being billed as the “greatest artistic discovery of the 21st century,” it has found a fitting abode in the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum which many agree is also one of the 21st century’s most spectacular museums.