After much speculation, it was confirmed Monday that the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism purchased the record-breaking Leonardo da Vinci painting, Salvator Mundi, for $450,000,000. Reports had been circulating that the Saudi Arabian prince, Bader bin Abdullah bin Farhan al-Saud, was the buyer.
It is now being said that the prince was functioning as a middleman between the auction house, Christie’s (the seller was the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev), and Abu Dhabi, which just opened an extension of the Louvre Museum, where the piece will presumably be displayed.
Whatever the case may be—and we will likely never know the full intricacies of such big money transfers among such high profile players—the sale turned a brighter-than-normal spotlight on the art world. And soon thereafter, Art Basel Miami Beach followed. The fair closed Sunday, Dec. 10.
There were no $450-million sales in Miami, but there were more than a few notable transactions. (However, keep in mind, there’s always the chance that a deal had been pre-arranged in advance of the event, or that the reported sales are not yet finalized.)
A mobile-like sculpture by Bruce Nauman, called Untitled (Two Wolves, Two Deer) fetched a price tag of $9.5 million. The piece, featuring odd bio-mutations of four suspended creatures vaguely recalling the animals in its title, was sold by Hauser & Wirth. The gallery also moved a $5-million piece by Mark Bradford called Moon Rocks.
Ugo Rondinone’s Hunger Moon fetched $1.2 million, and was sold by Galerie Eva Presenhuber. The work depicts a bleached, or sun-baked, lifeless tree that’s twisted and gutted, evoking both mystical and ominous tones.
Lee Krasner’s Miami-pink and yellow oil painting, Sun Woman 1, was sold for $7 million by Paul Kasmin Gallery. And Yoshitomo Nara’s portrait, Young Mother, was sold for 2.9 million by Pace Gallery.