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2,900 crore The amount for which Leonardo Da Vinci's painting of Christ, "Salvator Mundi", was auctioned last month.

The confusing saga started on December 6 when the Louvre Abu Dhabi tweeted that it was getting the most expensive painting in the world.

The New York Times on Wednesday, citing documents it reviewed, identified the buyer as Saudi Arabia's Prince Bader Bin Abdullah Bin Mohammed Bin Farhan Al Saud, whose country forbids the official worship of Christ or any other religion except Islam. The Wall Street Journal said the buyer was a proxy for the crown prince, citing a US government intelligence official and a Middle Eastern art-world figure familiar with the purchase.

Last week, it was announced on Twitter that Salvator Mundi would heading to The Louvre Abu Dhabi.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opened on November 11, has been one of the "most aggressive buyers on the global art market over the last decade", according to Bloomberg.

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What followed was one of the biggest art world debates in recent memory over its authenticity - if da Vinci was actually the artist behind it or if it was one of his disciples - as it ended up on display for the public at London's National Gallery and, later, at the auction house Christie's before it fetched a record-breaking price of $450,312,500. His statement did not mention the painting or address whether he had bought it.

In a 30-year deal worth a reported €1 billion ($1.18 billion), the French Louvre assists with exhibition management, offers advice and lends artworks to its Middle Eastern franchise. To differentiate itself from neighboring Dubai, Abu Dhabi is targeting affluent tourists looking for culture and art and it has also built hotels, theme parks and malls.

The firm's website describes him as "one of Saudi Arabia's youngest" entrepreneurs, present in sectors including real estate, telecommunications and recycling. Da Vinci's "La Belle Ferronnière" is on loan there from the Louvre in Paris.

Its latest sale was initiated by Russian tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev, the boss of football club AS Monaco.

"We own it", the official said.


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