In a Shock Move, the Louvre Abu Dhabi Postpones the Display of ‘Salvator Mundi’

The city’s department of culture and tourism made the announcement on Twitter.

Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi. Courtesy of Christie's Images Ltd., 2017.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi has delayed the much anticipated unveiling of Leonardo da Vinci’s $450 million painting Salvator Mundi in the Gulf.

Abu Dhabi’s tourism department made the surprise announcement today, September 3, via Twitter, but did not provide any reasons for the change of plan. It wrote: “The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi announces the postponement of the unveiling of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi.” 

The painting was originally slated to be displayed just two weeks from now on September 18 at the new museum on Saadiyat Island. “More details will be announced soon,” the public body added.

It is still unclear why the presentation of the world-famous painting has been postponed, or how much longer viewers will be kept waiting. The Gulf-based, English-language newspaper, the National speculates that the museum is putting off the unveiling until its one-year anniversary celebrations on November 11.

Although there is some debate among experts, the mysterious painting of Jesus Christ, the Latin title of which translates to “the savior of the world” is believed to be by the Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci. The work was bought for a record-breaking sum of $450 million at a Christie’s New York auction last November. Although it was initially thought to have been bought by a Saudi royal acting as a proxy for the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is close with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the work ended up in the hands of the city’s department of culture and tourism. The intention for it to be displayed at the Emirati museum was announced in December.

Artnet News has reached out to the Louvre Abu Dhabi and its sister institution the Louvre in Paris, which is due to show the painting next year. Neither institution was able to provide an update on the situation.

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