There are many questions surrounding the world’s most expensive painting, Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, after it was sold for a record-smashing US$450m at Christie’s New York salesroom in 2017. It has aroused doubts regarding its authenticity, and then its whereabouts after it was reportedly missing in the past two years. The painting is now believed to be kept in an unlikely place – Saudi Prince’s superyacht.
Salvator Mundi on view in Hong Kong before the sale
The painting was hammered down for a record-setting US$400m at Christie's New York in 2017
Another Saudi prince was said to have bought the artwork on Crown Prince Mohammed’s behalf at a 2017 Christie’s auction, the New York Times reported previously. The painting was planned to be displayed at The Louvre Abu Dhabi last September but it never showed up as the exhibition was infinitely delayed. It is believed the owners were put off by experts who have attributed the work to Da Vinci’s workshop, which would massively decrease its value.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman owns the superyacht Serene
According to artnet report citing two “principals involved in the transaction” that it didn’t identify, Salvator Mundi is being kept on superyacht Serene owned by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. The work was whisked away in the middle of the night on MBS’s plane and relocated to his yacht, the Serene. Salvator Mundi will remain aboard the 134-metre Serene until the Saudis create a planned cultural hub in the Kingdom’s Al-Ula region, Artnet said.
The yacht’s location as of May 26 was in the Red Sea off Sharm el-Sheikh, an Egyptian resort town on the Sinai Peninsula, according to Bloomberg ship tracking data.
The authenticity of the painting has been a source of controversy and Louvre's experts view is also shared by some other specialists in the field. A recent article published on Guardian reports that Carmen Bambach from Metropolitan Museum of Art saying she was wrongly referenced in Christie’s catalogue as attributing the painting to the artist alone.