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Intrigue over absent masterpiece as da Vinci show opens doors

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Intrigue over absent masterpiece as da Vinci show opens doors

PARIS (Reuters) – A grand exhibition marking 500 years since Leonardo da Vinci's death opened in Paris on Thursday, but there were intrigues about whether Christ's painting “Salvator Mundi,” one of the best-known works attributed to the master , would make a late appearance.

The exhibition at the Louvre brought together works by the Renaissance master, many of them borrowed from institutions in different parts of the world.

But Salvator Mundi, which sold for $ 450.3 million in November 2017, was a notable absence. The New York auction house that sold it said it was acquired by a Louvre branch in Abu Dhabi, but has not been displayed there or has been publicly seen since the sale.

The exhibition in Paris featured a version of the same painting by one of da Vinci's disciples.

"The Louvre Museum has no announcement to make about this," a Louvre spokeswoman said on Thursday, when asked if the real "Salvator Mundi" could appear in the exhibition, which runs until February 24 next year. .

The Louvre already houses the artist's most famous work of art, the Mona Lisa. This work is not part of the exhibition and remained on display in a different part of the museum.

Da Vinci left his native Italy when his patron died and spent his last years in France as a guest of the French monarch. He died in May 1519 in the Loire Valley castle, which had become his home.

One of the borrowed works, "Vitruvian Man", has been the subject of a political dispute with some groups in Italy, where the work is maintained, saying it should not go to France.

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But the play was among the exhibition's artworks on Thursday after a judge in Venice authorized the loan. He will be at the Louvre for only eight weeks before returning home. The Louvre cited its fragility as the reason for the reduced stay.

The exhibition was an instant success. According to the museum, 260,000 tickets have already been sold.

"It must be the biggest and best exhibit about Leonardo that has been going on for a long time," said Alan Kanzer of New York, who was in the courtyard of the Louvre on Thursday.

Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau, Thierry Chiarello and Kathryn Carlson; Editing by Christian Lowe and Frances Kerry

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