The painting by the Italian Renaissance master grabbed headlines when it was sold for a record-breaking price at Christie's auction house in NY. It has been reported that the buyer's identity was discovered in the midst of an ongoing investigation into Saudi Arabia's aristocrats, including Prince Bader's family and associates, criticized for their ostentatious displays of wealth. USA TODAY has reached out to Christie's for comment; meanwhile, said the auction house would not confirm whether the museum purchased the painting or someone else.
The official added that the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism had subsequently asked Prince Badr to act "as an intermediary purchaser". The newly opened museum made the announcement in a series of tweets, without confirming whether it had purchased, or is simply borrowing, the $450.3 million masterpiece.
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In a 30-year deal worth a reported €1 billion ($1.18 billion), the French Louvre assists with exhibition management, offers advice and lends artworks to its Middle Eastern franchise.
The museum now features more than 600 artworks, as well as 300 masterpieces on loan from 13 French galleries that will rotate throughout the year.
"Salvator Mundi" has raised the profile of the new Louvre museum within the art world. The result obliterated previous world records for an art sale of any kind, including the auction high of $179.4 million for a Pablo Picasso painting sold in 2015. It re-emerged in the 1950s, but was written off as a copy and sold for £45 or $60, according to CNN. The painting was subsequently acquired by a group of art dealers for less than $10,000 in 2005.