World

Da Vinci painting is on Saudi Crown Prince’s yacht: Report

WASHINGTON: Since its sale for a record US$450 million (S$610 million) in 2017, the whereabouts of the Salvator Mundi - the world's most costly artwork - said to be painted by Leonardo da Vinci, has become a great mystery.

On Monday, London-based art dealer Kenny Schachter, writing for the website Artnet News, claimed: The painting resides on the gargantuan yacht owned by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Since its sale at Christie's in 2017, the over 500-year-old painting, in which Jesus Christ is depicted emerging from darkness blessing the world with one hand while holding a globe in the other, has never been exhibited in public, triggering doubts about its ownership, whereabouts and authenticity.

Many art experts are split over whether the painting is genuine, saying it was not painted by the Italian master personally but instead by his workshop.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that the painting was bought by Saudi Prince Badr bin Abdullah, who acted in the name of Prince Mohammed.

But citing sources including two involved in the sale, Mr Schachter claimed the artwork "was whisked away in the middle of the night on Prince Mohammed's plane and relocated to his yacht, the Serene".

After saying the painting was found in shards and had to be reconstructed before its auction, he asked: "What harm could the occasional splash of seawater do?" - REUTERS

WORLD