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Da Vinci's Painting of Jesus Mysteriously Vanishes in the Middle East – Report

© AP Photo / Kirsty WigglesworthIn this Oct. 24, 2017 file photo, an employee poses with Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" on display at Christie's auction rooms in London.
In this Oct. 24, 2017 file photo, an employee poses with Leonardo da Vinci's Salvator Mundi on display at Christie's auction rooms in London. - Sputnik International
While the legendary painting was previously expected to be unveiled by the Louvre Abu Dhabi in September last year, the museum then decided to cancel that event without any explanation.

The current whereabouts of "Salvator Mundi", a famous painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci which depicts Jesus Christ in Renaissance dress, and which became the most expensive painting ever sold after fetching a price of $450.3 million in 2017, is now apparently nowhere to be found after it ended up in the Louvre Abu Dhabi, The New York Times reports.

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According to the newspaper, while the Abu Dhabi culture department previously announced that it had "somehow acquired" the painting after it was purchased at a Christie’s action by "a close ally" of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the artwork’s unveiling, which was scheduled to take place in September 2018, was "cancelled without explanation".

Furthermore, an official familiar with the "discussions" between Abu Dhabi and the Louvre in Paris told NYT on condition of anonymity that the French museum has been unable to locate the painting.

"It is tragic", Dianne Modestini, a professor at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts and a conservator who has worked on "Salvator Mundi", commented on this development. "To deprive the art lovers and many others who were moved by this picture — a masterpiece of such rarity — is deeply unfair".

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The NYT also pointed out that it remains unclear exactly how the UAE museum acquired the painting from the Saudis who bought it, claiming that “some have speculated that Crown Prince Mohammed might simply have decided to keep it”, as the Saudi embassy in Washington declined to comment on this issue.

The Abu Dhabi culture department is also “refusing to answer questions”, the newspaper adds.

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