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The latest news on Art from Business Insider
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    salvator mundi auction christies

    • Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi," the world's most-expensive painting, was auctioned off for a staggering $450 million.
    • You can't rush art.

    The world's most expensive painting was auctioned off at a staggering price of $450 million Wednesday, offering a glimpse not only at the supposed artwork of a world-renowned artist, but the prohibitively expensive world of art.

    Bidding on Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi," which translates to "Savior of the World,"opened at $70 million, but increased almost immediately to $95 million. The 26-inch-tall depiction of Christ dates back to around 1500, and is one of the fewer than 20 artworks in existence that is generally accepted to be from Leonardo da Vinci.

    As the price went up, agents could be seen frantically discussing the developments over the phone with their clients. During the proceeding, Jussi Pylkkänen, Christie's Global President and auctioneer for the sale, made a few classy quips during the process.

    "Are we all done," Pylkkänen coolly asked the room at one point, gesturing toward the busy agents. "Maybe not, don't take the photograph quite yet."

    "Will you give me 290," Pylkkänen asked one of the agents.

    "300," the agent replied.

    "I thought so," Pylkkänen said, amid gasps and applause. "$300 million. Let's see if that's done it."

    But the bidders weren't done. Nearly 20 minutes after the start of the auction, the last bid was finalized with an audible smash of Pylkkänen's gavel. A buyer's premium and fees would eventually be tacked on to the final bid, bringing the total price to $450,312,500.

    Around 1,000 people were reportedly packed into Christie's Auction House in New York to bear witness to the historic event, while thousands more watched a live-stream. The video now has more than 1.5 million views.

    "It is every auctioneer's ambition to sell a Leonardo and likely the only chance I will ever have,' Pylkkänen said, according to Christie's. "It's the pinnacle of my career so far."

    "The excitement from the public for this work of art has been overwhelming and hugely heartening."

    Watch the video here:

    SEE ALSO: Rare Leonardo da Vinci painting sells for record $450 million

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Leonardo da Vinci painting

    • Russian billoinaire Dmitry Rybolovlev recently sold a Leonardo da Vinci painting for a whopping $400 million — but who is he?


    Christ’s right hand is raised to bless the person who looks at it. Who now will hang Salvator Mundi in his or her palace and stand in front of the Christ to receive that blessing?

    Up until this week, it was Dmitry Rybolovlev, a Russian fertiliser salesman whose recent years have been spent intertwined with the trajectory of Donald Trump — hardly what Leonardo da Vinci would have imagine as he painted the Saviour of the Earth.

    Rybolovlev was the man who bought Trump’s seaside Florida mansion, Maison de l’Amitie, for $95 million, giving the now US President the accolade of having owned one of the world’s most expensive homes, and giving him a $50 million profit in just four years. "It’s the rare case where the arrival of a guy who sells s*** for a living actually improves the neighborhood," noted Vanity Fair.

    n 2013, Rybolovlev, who not only lives in Monaco but also owns its football club, opened his wallet again. This time is was for the Salvator Mundi, a painting that only recently been given the stamp of authenticity, and for $127 million.

    Now with the Robert Mueller investigation of Donald Trump and his Russian connections. Will there be questions for Rybolovlev?

    Just before the 2016 election, his jet landed at the same obscure airport as Trump’s just before the latter was about to address a rally nearby. Earlier that summer his yacht had docked in Croatia as Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner holidayed there. Rybolovlev said the planes were a coincidence and that he had never met Kushner.

    For anyone who is dealing in art valued in the hundreds of millions, there is the back story to how they made their money, what they choose to spend it on and why they chose to sell. For Rybolovlev that is an unfinished story.

    Salvator Mundi reappeared in a sale at Sotheby’s in 2005, after years being traded as a pauper’s painting, thought to be by a follower of da Vinci, and was sold for £10,000 to a consortium of buyers including Alexander Parish. The painting began to attract interest. Among the people who saw it early was Professor David Ekserdjian, an art historian with an interest in da Vinci. Experts in forensics as well as art historians arrived to inspect it — da Vinci the scientist would have appreciated their collaboration — and after some cleaning and X-rays a consensus began to emerge: this was by da Vinci’s own hand.

    "If it is meant to be one the hangers-on, they have their own look — a visual handwriting," says Ekserdjian. "It doesn’t conform to any of those people. It looks perfectly consistent with later Leonardo." What’s more, X-rays reveal that the thumb was originally painted in a different position. "It would be pretty weird if you are copying it to think: I will change the thumb, or put it back it where it always was."

    Dmitry Rybolovlev

    There was also engraving of the painting in the 1650s that refers to the original as by da Vinci. The consortium offered it to London’s National Gallery for its 2011 Leonardo exhibitions. It hangs alongside Lady with an Ermine and La Belle Ferronière and earns its authenticity in the eyes of the world.

    "I was Trustee [of the National Gallery] at the time," says Ekserdjian. Curators make the decisions, but if I had thought this was a dud I would have been obligated to ask, 'Are you sure this is a wise move?'"

    Shortly after the exhibition the painting was bought by Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier for $80 million at Sotheby’s. Bouvier knew Rybolovlev wanted it. It arrived at Rybolovlev’s Manhattan penthouse a couple of days later, in March, with a rather different price tag of $125 million.

    Three years later and the two were involved in a protracted legal dispute, with Bouvier accused of having swindled him by marking up the price and pocketing the profit. Bouvier was at one point arrested while entering one of the fertiliser king’s properties. He denies the charges.

    That might be why, when it arrived on the books at Christie’s, the painting’s estimated price was $100 million, a shade below what Ryobolvev had paid for it, which in turn gave rise to a number of people querying why it was so cheap. Among them was artist Jonathan Yeo. "It does make one question the sanity of the art market," observed Yeo, comparing it to a Jean-Michel Basquiat that had sold for $110 million. Perhaps it was a nod to the Bouvier dispute, a way of getting an auction house to confirm its notional value. That didn’t happen. Instead, the price quadrupled and the hunger to be the owner of that particular work proved the piece’s worth.

    On Wednesday night this week, the Christie’s sale was packed out. Among the usual suspects of buyers was a range of some of the richest people in the world. Giancarlo Giammetti and his partner, the designer Valentino, had taken a keen interest, visiting the da Vinci when it was on show. Giammetti Instagrammed the auction catalogue, on which he’d scribbled "400 millions!!" as it happened. A spokesman said Valentino, a man of considerable wealth and with a nice Picasso, had not entered the bidding.

    Liu Yi Qian, a Chinese billionaire art collector who’d started life as a taxi driver, spent $170 million on a Modigliani a couple of years ago, clearly wanted it. He sent his congratulations to whoever the buyer was on WeChat, a Chinese social-media feed, adding: "I feel kind of defeated right now."

    Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire with exquisite taste and money whose new London headquarters are a showcase for art, would certainly have the two required elements. His office hasn’t returned calls. And the new buyer could well be from the Middle East —Abu Dhabi’s new Louvre would accommodate such a painting nicely.

    Professor Ekserdjian noted that the auction had one key moment. Auctions normally go up in steps of 10, an auctioneer taking a bid for $80 million, then asking for $90 million, for example. When the bidding for Salvator Mundi climbed steadily to $370 million — already smashing all previous records for art — the phone bidder called in $400 million, a $30 million jump. That is someone with money to burn.

    "If you were an institution you would go to the next bid [ie, $380 million],” said Professor Ekserdjian, who has been a trustee of the National Gallery and previously worked for Christie’s for six years. That $30 million jump? “That is telling your opposition to get lost," he says.

    "It has to be assumed it would only be done by somebody from a culture where it was a cool thing to do — China, Japan, the Middle East?” And it is a perfect number “It would sound far less cool to get it 395 than 400. If it is made public, that is also part of the appeal: you are the person who did that thing — getting the richest prize in the world of art."

    Salvator Mundi has also become one of the most ungodly pieces of art, as the disputes over the rather base question of money, showmanship and greed revolve around a work whose value has skyrocketed in just a decade, despite nothing in its substance having changed. Whoever that person is, who now has da Vinci’s Christ with its eerie eyes looking down on him, or her, may well need a blessing.

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    salvator mundi bidders

    •  Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" became the most expensive painting ever after it sold for $450 million at auction.
    • The former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas Campbell, is fighting on Instagram with Robert Simon, a previous co-owner of the painting, over its sale.
    • It's reflective of how much marketing and social media has come to dominate the art world.
    • There are also legitimate concerns over how to conserve the painting, which is hard to do without a museum.


    Even before "Salvator Mundi"— a "lost" painting by Leonardo da Vinci — sold November 16 for a record-shattering $450 million at Christie's, it was already mired in controversy as some critics, including New York Magazine's Jerry Saltz, questioned its authenticity.

    Now another storm is brewing around the work, a portrait of Christ that was "rediscovered" in 2005 and authenticated as real several years later.

    Thomas Campbell, the embattled former director of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art — the biggest art museum in the Western Hemisphere — and one of the painting's previous co-owners, art dealer Robert Simon, are arguing about the painting on Instagram.

    "450 million dollars?! Hope the buyer understands conservation issues,"Campbell wrote in an Instagram post shortly after the painting sold.

    450 million dollars?! Hope the buyer understands conservation issues... @christiesinc #leonardodavinci #salvatormundi #readthesmallprint

    A post shared by Tom Campbell (@thomaspcampbell) on Nov 15, 2017 at 5:52pm PST on


    Robert Simon, one of the painting's previous owners, commented on Campbell's post that he found the post "disrespectful."

    "This is an incredibly ill-informed and mean-spirited comment about one of the most respected painting conservators in the world, one who incidentally spent many years diligently working at your former institution," Simon wrote.

    salvator mundi leonardo da vinci on display london

    Some art world observers find the spat less about conservation and more about the enormous sum of money spent the painting, which was sold by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev and sold to an anonymous buyer. The work went for more than twice the price of the next-most expensive painting sold at public auction. It was also the first time a third-party marketing agency was used to promote a sale.

    "The art world is all about social media presence and marketing now," an employee at a major New York gallery told INSIDER. "So for the Met director to throw shade on Instagram seems pretty on par with how the art world is going."

    There is a legitimate concern over how the painting will be preserved.

    The conservation of "Salvator Mundi" is a major concern in the art world. Conserving paintings is expensive, especially when they're 500 years old and in delicate condition.

    Often, art owners will put work on "permanent loan" to a museum in exchange for the museum covering the cost of the work's upkeep.

    But the identity of the painting's new owner has not been unmasked yet, and it's not clear how the work will be conserved or displayed.

    salvator mundi leonardo da vinci christie's

    The conservation of the painting under Simon's co-ownership (along with art dealers Alex Parish and Warren Adelson) was in the hands of Dianne Modestini, a conservationist and researcher at New York University.

    The painting was in poor condition when it was discovered in 2005, and went through an extensive restoration by Modestini. Christie's ended up categorizing it as "Post-War and Contemporary Art."

    In his comment, Simon defended Modestini's work.

    "I personally observed the conservation process on the Salvator Mundi and can attest to the absolute honesty, modesty, and respect that Dianne Modestini brought to her work on the painting—carried out at the highest ethical standards of the profession," Simon wrote. "Given the prevalence of so many foolish remarks in both serious and social media, I have refrained from responding, but feel compelled to do so now."

    In the same thread, Campbell dismissed Simon's concerns.

    "I have [the] greatest respect for Modestini," Campbell wrote. "Was simply remarking, as so many others have, on extensive amount of conservation. Seems to be a lot of over-sensitivity out there."

    christie's sale salvator mundi

    Loic Gouzer, an executive at Christie's, also joined the fray. While there's no public post from him on the Instagram thread (The Art Newspaper surmises it may have been in a direct message), Campbell wrote a response to Gouzer criticizing his "abusive bullying."

    "My comment was a legitimate response to an extraordinary price," Campbell wrote. "Christie’s doesn’t need your abusive bullying to defend itself. And my comment certainly wasn’t an attack on a highly competent conservator. If you don’t enjoy my occasional Instagram posts then don’t follow me."

    Even in the upper echelons of the art world, no one is immune to Instagram spats.

    Gouzer, Campbell, and Simon didn't immediately respond to INSIDER's request for comment.

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    clothes artist

    We are hiring a writing intern with a focus on art for INSIDER, a new publication that delivers stories to readers across digital platforms.

    The role includes finding and pitching ideas for INSIDER's videos about art and artists, and researching, writing, and producing scripts. Recent examples include videos about an artist who does hyperrealistic paintings and a henna artist who does full-body designs.

    Writing interns work closely with video editors, but they do not need to have video-editing experience. We're looking for ambitious reporters who can find and chase great stories, and relay them to our audience in a compelling way. Our interns are an integral part of our team. We seek out self-starters and people who are enthusiastic about collaborating with video producers, social media editors, and other team members.

    This internship position is at our Flatiron headquarters in New York City. It starts asap and runs for six months. Interns are encouraged to work full-time (40 hours a week) if their schedule allows.

    At INSIDER, our motto is "Life is an adventure." We tell stories for, about, and by people who seize life. That means they love to travel, try new foods, listen to new music, and fight for what’s right — and they admire people who do the same. INSIDER is distributed across social media, including FacebookTwitterInstagram, Snapchat, and YouTube , as well as on the web.

    If this sounds like your dream job, apply here with a resume and cover letter telling us why you're a fit for INSIDER and detailing your interest in art.

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    • Artist Alonsa Guevara paints incredibly realistic fruit paintings. 
    • The series is called "fruit portraits."
    • She says they represent "desire, fecundity, and fertility."
    • Prices for the paintings range from £150 to £2,680.


    Artist Alonsa Guevara paints incredibly realistic fruit paintings. 

    She calls them "fruit portraits" and says they represent "desire, fecundity, and fertility."

    Some of the fruits she paints are real, while others are imagined. 

    Alonsa was born in Chile and moved to the US in 2011. She says living in a rainforest for 7 years as a child inspired her fruit portrait series.

    Prices for her paintings range from £150 to £2,680.

    Produced by Claudia Romeo 

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    TIPOLOGIA PASO GRANDE 1 trump wall

    Eight prototypes for the Trump administration's wall now stand near the US-Mexico border in San Diego, California.

    They were chosen as finalists from hundreds of submissions from architects, developers, and construction companies this spring.

    Not all border wall bids were serious, though. Mexican architects from Estudio 3.14, a design firm based in Guadalajara, imagined a hot pink border that stretches 1,954 miles, called the "Prison-Wall."

    The renderings are meant to show the impracticality of building the wall and serve as a form of protest, designer Norberto Miranda told Business Insider. He said the border most likely wouldn't foster positive relations with Mexico, and the mountainous terrain would make construction difficult.

    As many others have pointed out, the wall would also be expensive, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has said his country would never pay for it.

    CNBC's Kate Drew wrote that the construction could cost the US government $15 billion to $25 billion. Maintenance and hiring 21,000 border-patrol agents could cost an additional $2.1 billion a year, according to CNBC and an analysis by Politico. (Trump has said Mexico would pay for the wall through taxes or trade.) Estudio 3.14 designed the renderings around these estimates.

    If built, the wall would become one of the largest architectural projects in modern American history.

    Here's what Estudio 3.14's renderings suggest the barrier could look like:

    SEE ALSO: An MIT researcher created a Trump Twitter bot that’s now ‘running for president'

    The designers imagined a pink wall, since Trump has repeatedly said it should be "beautiful."

    The design was also inspired by the work of renowned Mexican architect Luis Barragán, who is known for his blunt, stucco walls and use of bright colors.

    Stretching from the Pacific Coast to the Gulf of Mexico, the wall would separate the Southwest from northern Mexico.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    • Laetitia Ky uses extensions, fabric, needle, thread, and sometimes wool to create hair sculptures.
    • Her hair sculptures are usually tied to activism.
    • The 21-year-old has sculpted many things including a bicycle, a unicorn, and people.
    • Ky documents her creations on Instagram.

    Anyone with an Instagram account and idle time has fallen victim to mindless scrolling. You what we're talking about; you bypass so many selfies, sponsored posts and celebrity candids that after awhile, your thumb seems to take on a mind of its own as images turn into one big blur. So much so, that you miss out on things that are actually worth your attention.

    If you're overdue for some double-tap worthy inspiration, we highly recommend following Laetitia KY. The 21-year-old, who resides in Africa's Ivory Coast, has amassed over 54,000 followers, thanks to her unique brand of hair artistry. Armed with extensions, fabric, needle, thread and sometimes wool, the burgeoning black artist molds her hair into towering sculptures that resemble everything from bicycles to hands and exotic animals.

    In an interview with Allure, Ky said that her pieces take anywhere from twenty minutes to two hours, with ideas coming spontaneously. "I'm naturally gifted with hair, but I've never studied it," she said. "I want to encourage people to express themselves, to explore their creativity, to not be afraid to be who they are."

    Beyond that, it appears she's now using her talent to shed light on the many issues plaguing women during the Trump era (and long before that, to be honest). Two of her newest creations are dedicated to spreading awareness about gun violence and the ever-growing #MeToo movement, ignited by victims of sexual harassment.

    #metoo Thousands of women are raped every day in the world, but very few are able to talk about it, to complain or fight. Why? Because our "beautiful" society has the tendency to blame the victim almost every time. "" Oh but you should not have to gone out so late !!! """""Ah, but you had a mini skirt"",""why are you complaining if you agreed to have dinner with him?"",""dont tell me that you were not trying to seduce him with all that makeup""... Ladies ... NOTHING JUSTIFIES RAPE, SEXUAL ASSAULT OR HARASSMENT. Neither your clothing, your make-up, your relationship with the abuser (because even your husband doesnt have the right to force you to have sex if you dont want to, the concept of marital rape exists). There is no enabling circumstance for the abuser and you need to talk about it so that thing starts to change. Don't remain silent, dont let anyone tell you that you have some responsibility in this despicable act !!!! Speak out because you dont have to carry this burden alone, talk to help other women who are afraid, talk to start a revolution, talk to change things. You are not alone. Dont be discouraged even if your direct surrounding makes you feel guilty ... the weight can be difficult to sustain and the battle can be hard but it is worth it !!!!!! It's never too late to speak out. Even if the assault took place 20 years ago, a crime remains a crime so dare to speak out .... dont let anything pass... so those men learn to honor and respect women . Because yes, it is not for you to interfere with your liberty so that they are not tempted but for them to know how to control themself. I repeat it once more, dare to talk about it, dare to SNITCH ON YOUR PIGS... talk to the people around you so they can bring you all the support that the victims desperately need to start the process of healing... My DM is open to anyone who wants to talk. You are not alone.

    A post shared by KY (@laetitiaky) on Nov 2, 2017 at 2:11pm PDT on

    "Ladies … NOTHING JUSTIFIES RAPE, SEXUAL ASSAULT OR HARASSMENT. Neither your clothing, your make-up, your relationship with the abuser (because even your husband doesn't have the right to force you to have sex if you don't want to, the concept of marital rape exists)," said Ky under a sculpture of a male figure looking pulling up the skirt of a female one.

    "There is no enabling circumstance for the abuser and you need to talk about it so that thing starts to change. Don't remain silent, don't let anyone tell you that you have some responsibility in this despicable act !!!! Speak out because you don't have to carry this burden alone, talk to help other women who are afraid, talk to start a revolution, talk to change things."

    According to Elle UK,  she also plans to expand her newfound success into a clothing line and other artistic forms. We can't wait to see what she does next.

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    vessel view of the special events plaza courtesy of visualhouse nelsonbyrdwoltz

    On Manhattan's Far West Side, a $25 billion neighborhood called Hudson Yards is set to be the biggest real estate development in American history. The project's developers expect full build-out by 2024.

    Beyond its new residential skyscrapers, gardens, restaurants, shops, and offices, Hudson Yards will also feature a public landmark that appears to be inspired by M.C. Escher.

    Called the Vessel, the $150 million structure includes 15 stories of intertwining staircases that visitors will climb. The project topped out on Wednesday morning.

    Take a look below.

    SEE ALSO: Mexican designers envision a Trump border wall that could take 16 years to build

    Vessel is in the outdoor public space of Hudson Yards, which is still under construction. Here's what the NYC neighborhood looked like in October 2017.

    The 600-ton structure features 154 flights of stairs and 80 landings, which connect to form a lattice of walkways. Thomas Heatherwick, founder of London's Heatherwick Studio, designed it.

    Visitors will be able to climb 2,500 steps, totaling a mile of pathway above the plazas and gardens below.

    Only physically impaired visitors will be able to use Vessel's glass elevator to reach the top.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    balthus painter

    • A viral petition is asking the The Metropolitan Museum of Art to move or change the signage for the Balthus painting "Thérèse Dreaming."
    • The Met defended the painting and said it provides an "opportunity for discussion."
    • Balthus's paintings have been controversial for decades because of how they sexualize young women.


    The Metropolitan Museum of Art is refusing to take down a painting after nearly 10,000 people signed a petition saying it should be removed or recontextualized because it "depicts a young girl in a sexually suggestive pose."

    Mia Merrill, a human resources professional at a financial company, says she was shocked to see Balthus's painting "Thérèse Dreaming" in the Met — particularly because of the current conversation around sexual assault. Her petition asks the museum to either move the painting to another gallery or add more context to the painting's description.

    "It can be strongly argued that this painting romanticizes the sexualization of a child," she wrote in her petition. "The Met is, perhaps unintentionally, supporting voyeurism and the objectification of children."

    The museum declined to remove the painting from its current spot, according to the New York Times.

    "Moments such as this provide an opportunity for conversation," the Met's chief communications officer, Ken Weine, said in a statement provided to INSIDER. "Visual art is one of the most significant means we have for reflecting on both the past and the present and encouraging the continuing evolution of existing culture through informed discussion and respect for creative expression."

    therese dreaming balthus

    The museum didn't respond to INSIDER's request for comment over whether it would change the signage for "Thérèse Dreaming." A representative for Balthus's estate didn't immediately respond to INSIDER's request for comment.

    Merrill, through a spokesperson, declined to respond to INSIDER's request for comment.

    Balthus's paintings have been controversial for his entire career.

    The painted — whose real name was Balthasar Klossowski de Rola and who died in 2001 — has been a controversial figure in the art world for decades. Many of his paintings show highly sexualized depictions of young girls.

    His 1934 work "The Guitar Lesson" was one of his first to scandalize his peers. When it was displayed along with "Thérèse Dreaming" and other Balthus paintings at a special exhibit in the Met in 2013, a plaque warned readers that the paintings were disturbing in nature.

    "At its 1934 debut in Paris, it was shown for fifteen days, covered, in the gallery’s back room,"wrote the art critic Jerry Saltz in 2013. "In 1977, it appeared for a month at Pierre Matisse’s 57th Street gallery. It has never been exhibited again, as if it were some metaphysical equivalent of the cursed videotape in The Ring that kills anyone who views it."

    woman looking at balthus therese dreaming

    "Thérèse Dreaming," which was finished in 1938, was Balthus's first painting of an underage model, according to the Village Voice. Balthus toned down the eroticism in his paintings later in his career, but he remained defensive of it.

    ''I really don't understand why people see the paintings of girls as Lolitas,'' he told the New York Times in 1996. ''My little model is absolutely untouchable to me."

    For all his artwork, Balthus's biographies and obituaries haven't published evidence of pedophilia in his personal life.

    "The impropriety—timeless and realistic—was in his imagination,"the New Yorker's Judith Thurman wrote. "But you owe it to the art to examine the nuances of your discomfort. That’s where his genius lies."

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    salvator mundi leonardo da vinci on display london

    • "Salvator Mundi," the Leonardo da Vinci painting that sold for $450 million, is headed to the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
    • We don't yet know when it will be on display.
    • We still don't know who actually purchased the painting, but the news puts to rest concern over its conservation.


    "Salvator Mundi" finally found a home.

    Ever since the controversial painting, which was at the center of a raging debate over whether it was really painted by Leonardo da Vinci, sold for a record-shattering $450 million in November, people have been wondering who the owner is and whether it'd ever be seen in public again.

    Now we have an answer to one of those questions. The Louvre Abu Dhabi announced Wednesday that it will have the painting on display.

    The museum hasn't yet said how or when it'll display the painting to the public.

    The Louvre Abu Dhabi was created as a sister museum to the Louvre in Paris, and was inaugurated on November 8 — just around the same time Christie's organized the sale of "Salvator Mundi." Being the first public art institution to display the painting is a huge win for the new museum.

    But we still don't know who actually purchased the painting and under what conditions it will be transferred to the Louvre. Generally, private owners will give paintings on "permanent loan" to a museum, where an art institution pays for its upkeep. The art world has fretted over conservation and upkeep of "Salvator Mundi," which would be expensive for a painting of its age.

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    Mohammed bin Salman

    • Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is behind the purchase of most expensive painting ever sold at auction.
    • A Leonardo da Vinci painting of Jesus Christ sold for $450 million.
    • Crown Prince Mohammed reportedly used another Saudi prince as a proxy for the purchase.

    Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is reportedly behind the purchase of the most expensive painting ever sold at auction, according to The Wall Street Journal.

    US government intelligence sources and a Saudi art-world figure all confirmed to The Journal that Crown Prince Mohammed was the buyer of a $450 million Leonardo da Vinci painting of Jesus Christ.

    Crown Prince Mohammed is widely seen to be the muscle behind the recent anti-corruption purge, as he consolidates power in a way Saudi Arabia hasn't seen in decades. Many of Saudi Arabia's richest and most powerful people were arrested and jailed last month.

    Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud was identified as the mystery buyer in a New York Times report published Wednesday, but is now reported to be a proxy for the crown prince. US intelligence reports have been closely tracking Prince Mohammed's activities, according to The Journal, and identified him as the painting's buyer.

    The nature of the painting — a rendition of Christ — and the timing of the purchase — less than two weeks after the corruption purge — calls into question whether the crown prince has been selectively targeting people in the crackdown, The Times reported.

    Here is the painting, which will be featured at the Louvre Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates:

    Prince Bader, part of a distant branch of the wealthy royal family, is reportedly friends and business partners with Crown Prince Mohammed.

    The Saudi art-world figure told The Journal that Prince Bader "is a proxy" for Prince Mohammed.

    "It is a fact that this deal was done via a proxy," the person said.

    David Choi contributed reporting to this article.

    SEE ALSO: Inside the rapid rise and unprecedented power grab of Saudi Arabia's millennial crown prince

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