For two years, the location of Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece Salvator Mundi has been a hidden truth. According to a new report, the painting is believed to be installed on Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's yacht.
Described as "the world's most expensive artwork," the painting was sold at a New York auction for a record $450 million in 2017. On Monday, Artnet reported that the 500-year-old painting is lodging inside the Saudi crown prince's 134-meter yacht. The author of the report, a London-based art dealer, cited "two principals involved in the transaction," but failed to identify them by name.
According to those "two principals," the masterpiece was "whisked away in the middle of the night on MBS's plane and relocated to his yacht, the Serene."
According to the report, the painting was initially bought by Saudi Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud on behalf of MBS. However, according to Bloomberg, the place where the auction took place declined to confirm that claim.
There have been previous claims that the United Arab Emirates capital's department of culture and tourism bought the artwork - to ultimately have it displayed at the relatively new The Louvre Abu Dhabi. "Having spent so long undiscovered, this masterpiece is now our gift to the world," Mohamed Khalifa al-Mubarak, the chairman of Abu Dhabi's department of culture and tourism, said in June 2018.
However, last September, the museum canceled its plans to put the masterpiece on display. Ben Lewis, author of The Last Leonardo, said he believes the owners had been "put off by experts who have expressed doubt about the painting's authenticity," according to The Telegraph.
The masterpiece's authenticity has been at the center of controversy for years, with claims that one of da Vinci's assistants painted the artwork for him.
According to Bloomberg, the yacht is believed to be docking somewhere along the Red Sea, just off the Egyptian resort town Sharm el-Sheikh.
The author of the report claims the painting will remain onboard the superyacht until it is relocated to the Al-Ula governorate in Saudi Arabia. Could that really be the case?