Abu Dhabi postpones unveiling da Vinci painting

Culture Desk | Published at 10:12pm on September 06, 2018


Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’. Courtesy:Wikipedia

Leonardo da Vinci’s recently rediscovered painting ‘Salvator Mundi’, which courted controversy after Saudi Arabia’s crown prince was named as its alleged secret buyer, will not be unveiled on schedule, different agencies report.
Abu Dhabi’s culture and tourism department on Monday announced ‘the postponement of the unveiling of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi’ in a tweet, reports AFP.
‘More details will be announced soon,’ it said.
The ‘Salvator Mundi’, a portrait of Jesus Christ painted in 1500, was the only one of the fewer than 20 paintings believed to be the work of the famed Renaissance Old Master still in private hands when it went under the hammer, and sold, at Christie’s in November. The painting was declared authentic six years ago, after long being dismissed as a copy by one of Da Vinci’s students, AFP report reads.
It was scheduled to be on display at a new branch of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi from September 18, reports Reuters.
The Abu Dhabi state-linked newspaper, The National, reported the museum might wait until the first anniversary of its opening in November to unveil the painting, which was purchased last year for $450.3 million by an unidentified buyer.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi has kept tight-lipped over the identity of the painting’s buyer, saying only that the emirate’s Department of Culture and Tourism had ‘acquired’ it. Last December, the New York Times identified the buyer as an obscure member of the Saudi royal family, Prince Badr bin Abdullah.
A document seen by Reuters showed that Saudi Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, a relative of the crown prince who subsequently became the kingdom’s first culture minister, had been authorised to make the purchase on behalf of the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism.
The painting was the last da Vinci left in private hands and fetched more than four times Christie’s pre-sale estimate of about $100 million.
Saudi Arabia and the neighbouring United Arab Emirates are very close allies who are both engaged militarily in the war against rebels in Yemen, and diplomatically and economically against Gulf rival Qatar.