Since Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman forked out an eye-watering $450 million in 2017 for Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi, the whereabouts of the most expensive painting in the world has been a mystery.
In April it was reported that the painting had gone missing, but yesterday Artnet, an art industry news service, reported that the 500-year-old painting has been on $0.5 billion 440-foot yacht belonging to the Crown Prince, just one of his many lavish purchase in last few years. Bin Salman, known as MBS, is also the owner of world’s most expensive home; a $300 million French chateau also purchased in 2017.
According to Artnet the painting, which “was whisked away in the middle of the night on MBS’s plane” has been “relocated to his yacht, the Serene”.
This may come as a huge surprise to those following the mystery of the missing painting. The great unveiling of the prized piece was meant to take place at a new branch of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi in September 2018. It seems the painting was on its way to the UAE after it was allegedly gifted by MBS to Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed.
Since being reported missing, a debate has raged in the art world over the painting’s history. Its authenticity as an original Leonardo piece had come into question. The author of the article in Artnet says that there is no “definitive proof” the work was an autograph Leonardo masterpiece, which would be embarrassing for MBS who parted with half a billion dollars to get his hands on the prized piece.