Saudi prince is the mystery buyer of record-breaking $450m da Vinci painting

A Saudi prince has emerged as the buyer of the record-breaking $450 million (£341m) Da Vinci painting.

It’s been reported that Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud was the mystery bidder behind the auction sale of the 500-year-old masterpiece.

Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” painting has a new home (REUTERS/Peter Nicholls)

The work – known as Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World) by Leonardo da Vinci – is is heading to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the museum has said.

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It made the announcement via Twitter – but did not say if it had bought the painting at the New York auction last month.

It also did not confirm the Saudi prince as the new owner but the New York Times later reported it had seen documents confirming him at the mystery buyer.

Da Vinci died in 1519 and there are fewer than 20 of his paintings in existence.

While auction house Christie’s, which sold the Salvator Mundi, do not doubt its authenticity, many in the art world still harbour concerns about the work.

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Some maintain the painting is not by the hand of the Renaissance master da Vinci rather one of his star pupils or students.

There is still some debate about whether the artwork is a genuine da Vinci or by one of his followers (AFP Photo/Anthony WALLACE)

Whatever the doubts over the painting, a breathless auction saw the bids climb spectacularly, eventually topping out at $450m (£341m) after 20 frenzied minutes.

That sum easily eclipsed the previous art record of $179m (£115m) for a Pablo Picasso work sold in 2015.

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The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened earlier this month in the United Arab Emirates having cost £1bn to build in a 10-year project.

It has strong links to the world famous Louvre in Paris and has borrowed 300 pieces of art from France.