Louvre Abu Dhabi delays unveiling of world’s most expensive painting

The painting was meant to go on display later this month



Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT – Abu Dhabi) has announced the postponement of an exhibition displaying the world’s most expensive painting, Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi gallery, which opened last November, previously said it would display the 500-year-old artwork from September 18.

Read: World’s most expensive painting coming to Louvre Abu Dhabi in September

DCT – Abu Dhabi said in a brief Twitter post that the unveiling would now be delayed.

“More details will be announced soon,” it added.

The Christ by the Renaissance master smashed artwork auction records in November, almost coinciding with the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s opening, when it was sold for $450m to an unknown buyer.

Read: UAE leaders, French President Macron open Louvre Abu Dhabi

There was initial speculation that Saudi prince Bader bin Abdullah Al Saud had bought the painting on behalf of the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

However, it later emerged that the work had come into the possession of Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi.

The artwork, which dates from around 1500, is one of only 20 da Vinci’s known to exist.

It shows Christ in renaissance robes with his right hand raised in blessing and his left holding a crystal sphere.

Prior to its recent record auction, the artwork had an interesting history. King Charles 1 of England was said to have owned it before it disappeared until 1900 when a British collector acquired the work.

The Salvator Mundi was sold again in 1958 for GBP45 ($60) and then acquired in 2005, after being badly damaged and partly painted over, by a consortium of art dealers for less than $10,000.

The art dealers restored the painting and claimed it was the authentic work of Leonardo himself before it was exhibited across the world and sold at auction by Christie’s.

There was speculation that the Louvre Abu Dhabi could delay the unveiling until its first anniversary on November 8.