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Da Vinci's Savior of the World purchased by Saudi prince on behalf of UAE museum for $450 million

AP , Saturday 9 Dec 2017
Salvator Mundi
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. The rare painting of Christ, which that sold for a record $450 million, is heading to a museum in Abu Dhabi. The newly-opened Louvre Abu Dhabi made the announcement in a tweet on Wednesday, 6 December 2017. (Photo: AP)
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The Saudi Arabian embassy in Washington, D.C., says that a painting by Leonardo da Vinci that sold for $450 million at an auction in New York was purchased by a member of the royal family on behalf of a museum in the United Arab Emirates.

The embassy says Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud bought the painting for the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi so it could be displayed there at the newly opened branch of the Louvre museum.

The Wall Street Journal and New York Times both reported Thursday that Bader was acting as a proxy for Saudi Arabia's crown prince.

The identity of the owner and ultimate destination of the artwork plays a big role in whether the sale is taxed. The state's laws are structured so that out-of-town buyers don't get hit with a big tax bill.

New York City collects sales tax on even the smallest items, but it probably won't collect a cent in taxes on a nearly half billion dollar painting by Leonardo da Vinci.

The artist's "Salvator Mundi" (Savior of the World) sold for $450 million during a record-breaking auction at Christie's in November to a buyer reported to be a Saudi prince. But unless he decides to hang the work in Manhattan — or has it shipped out of the country using the wrong type of carrier — the city won't get any taxes.

The state's laws are structured so that out-of-town buyers don't get hit with a big tax bill.

An expert says if the city taxes them its status as a global center for art sales might be jeopardized.

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