Today, the Louvre Abu Dhabi tweeted out a very simple message: “Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi is coming to #LouvreAbuDhabi.”
In case it wasn’t clear that the museum was serious, its official Twitter account posted the message in three languages: English, Arabic, and French. The explosive bit of art news was also posted to the museum’s Facebook page (though in Arabic only).
It is a strangely unceremonious way for such a big piece of news to come out. The next step in the long, twisted history of Leonardo’s mysterious (and somewhat contested) painting has been the subject of intense speculation since its sale at Christie’s two weeks ago to a mystery buyer made it the most expensive painting of all time.
Following the Louvre’s initial tweet, Christie’s retweeted the message, adding their own: “Congratulations — the Salvator Mundi is going to its new home the @LouvreAbuDhabi.”
It was unclear whether Christie’s actually had information to suggest that the Louvre Abu Dhabi would be the “new home” of the painting. Asked for clarification about the news, an official Christie’s spokesperson said, “We are delighted that the work will again be on public view. We have no further information.”
Brunswick Group, the official PR company of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, told artnet News that they could offer no official confirmation, as of yet. Neither the Louvre nor the Louvre Abu Dhabi replied immediately when asked for further details on the social media posts.
Last week, Louvre director Jean-Luc Martinez set the art world rumor mill on fire with his comment to a radio interviewer in France suggesting he was looking forward to seeing Salvator Mundi hanging alongside Mona Lisa soon. At the time of that story, a Louvre spokesperson told artnet News: “The Louvre is currently working on the list of the loans for the Leonardo da Vinci 2019 exhibition. It is too early to communicate on that list.”
The closely watched Louvre Abu Dhabi initiative opened last month, coincidentally just days before the Salvator Mundi sale. It is one of the most high-profile parts of the Saadiyat Island Cultural District, and is part of a 30-year agreement between the city of Abu Dhabi and the French government. Saadiyat Island has been the subject of international controversy over the labor conditions of the largely South Asian guest workers who have been contracted to build the splashy new cultural institutions there, including the Louvre.
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