Was Record Breaking Da Vinci Sale the Result of Arab Princes's Accidental Bidding War?

In further news: FT editor’s appointment as chair of Tate trustees criticized; and a Wes Anderson exhibition comes to London

Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World), c.1500, oil on walnut, 66 x 45 cm. Courtesy: Christie’s, London / New York

Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi (detail), c.1500, oil on walnut, 66 x 45 cm. Courtesy: Christie’s, London / New York

Leonardo da Vinci, Salvator Mundi (detail), c.1500, oil on walnut, 66 x 45 cm. Courtesy: Christie’s, London / New York

In the latest twist surrounding last year’s record-breaking bid for Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi (c.1500), reaching USD$450.3 million at Christie’s, New York, a report in the Daily Mail claims that the astronomical price was actually the result of an accidental bidding war. The article suggests that representatives for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and the UAE’s de-facto ruler Mohammed Bin Zayed both bid for the artwork, thinking that they were competing against Qatar. After they realized the truth, Prince Mohammed Bin Salman offered Mohammed Bin Zayed the Leonardo in exchange for a yacht. 

In a new interview for frieze, Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, director of Castello di Rivoli, has shared her experiences of working in the arts. Declaring her support for the #MeToo movement she commented on recent museum departures: ‘A disturbing fact is that in the past few months, most of the people being sacked or asked to resign from museums are women – Olga Viso from the Walker, Laura Raicovich at Queens, Beatrix Ruf from the Stedelijk, Maria Inés Rodríguez at CAPC Bordeaux and Helen Molesworth at LA MOCA […] It’s important to remember that there are a lot of men on museum boards.’

The latest commission for the fourth plinth of Trafalgar Square has been revealed to Londoners, with Michael Rakowitz’s The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist recreating an ancient Assyrian monument of a winged lamassu deity, destroyed by ISIS in 2015. It has been reconstructed from 10,500 Iraqi date syrup cans, and will be on show until March 2020. ‘My lamassu has its ass pointed in the direction of the British Museum and it’s facing south-east, towards Nineveh, with its wings raised, hoping to return,’ the artist told frieze.

Financial Times editor Lionel Barber has been named chair of Tate trustees. Barber has been serving as acting interim chairman of the Tate, but his formal appointment has triggered speculation about a possible conflict of interest, with Tate fundraising interfering with the impartiality demanded of his editorial role at the FT. Barber said that his involvement in fundraising would be disclosed, and he would recuse himself from associated editorial coverage.

Art collector and Yuz Museum founder Budi Tek has confirmed that he is partnering with Los Angeles County Museum of Art to create a foundation, to which he is donating his collection of contemporary Chinese art – it’s the first of its kind for a US-China museum deal. An inaugural exhibition is planned for 2019. Tek is very ill with cancer – ‘I am concerned about the collection; part of my legacy involves preserving the holdings I’ve built up over the past 15 years. There is a time pressure; I needed to make a speedy decision that was right,’ he told the Art Newspaper.

Laura Sillars has been named director of Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (mima), UK. She will take up the new position this summer succeeding Alistair Hudson, who moved to head up Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth at the beginning of the year. Sillars is currently artistic director at Sheffield’s Site Gallery. 

And finally, a show of original set designs along with puppets from Wes Anderson’s film Isle of Dogs (2018), released in the UK on 30 March, is on show in London, at The Store on the Strand – the exhibition runs until 5 April 2018.

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