The unveiling of Leonardo da Vinci's painting Salvator Mundi at the Louvre Abu Dhabi has been indefinitely postponed, authorities say.

Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism announced the delay on Twitter, saying "more details will be announced soon."

The department declined to answer any questions from The Associated Press, saying: "At this stage, we do not have any further information."

The Renaissance oil painting of Christ, whose title in Latin means "Saviour of the World," sold for a record-breaking US$450 million ($682m) at an auction in New York at Christie's in November.


It was to be shown from September 18. The National, a state-aligned English-language newspaper in Abu Dhabi, wrote on Monday that "speculation suggests the museum might be waiting for its one-year anniversary on November 11" to unveil it.

Mystery has swirled around the museum's acquisition of the painting.

Western diplomats say a Saudi royal acting as a proxy for Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is close to Abu Dhabi's powerful Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was the buyer.

The Saudi Embassy in Washington and officials in Abu Dhabi say the Saudi royal purchased the painting on behalf of the museum in Abu Dhabi, which opened just days before the auction.

The display of the painting would be a major draw for the new museum - built on Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island for an undisclosed sum - which has sought to distinguish itself from its Paris namesake since opening after a decade of delays.

Abu Dhabi is paying France US$525m for the use of the "Louvre" name for the next 30 years and six months, plus another US$750m to hire French managers to oversee 300 loaned works of art.

- AP