Salvator Mundi (Latin for 'Savior of the World'), the Leonardo da Vinci painting whose whereabouts has been a mystery since it was sold in 2017 for a record US$450 million, is reported to have turned up on a yacht belonging Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).

The painting, whose authenticity has been a source of controversy, "was whisked away in the middle of the night on MBS’s plane and relocated to his yacht, the Serene," said, citing two people involved in the transaction that it did not identify.

The Salvator Mundi will remain aboard Serene until the Saudis create a planned cultural hub in the Kingdom’s Al-Ula region, Artnet said.

Salvator Mundi; photo / LouvreAbuDhabi

Another Saudi prince was said to have purchased the 500-year-old painting on MBS's behalf at a 2017 Christie's auction, the New York Times reported previously.  Christie's declined to confirm that report.

The Saudi government's Center for International Communication didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, according to Al Jazeera

The Salvator Mundi by Leonardo da Vinci is an Italian Renaissance painting attributed by some leading experts to Leonardo and by others to his circle or followers.  Long thought to be a copy of a lost original veiled with over-painting, it was rediscovered, restored, and included in a major Leonardo exhibition at the National Gallery, London, in 2011–12.

The painting depicts Christ wearing a blue robe, with brown and gilded cross-strapping across his chest, making the gesture of benediction with his right hand, while holding a transparent crystal or glass orb in his left.  The iconography signals his role as Salvator Mundi (Latin for 'Savior of the World'), in which the orb may represent the 'celestial sphere' of the heavens.  Around twenty other versions of the work are known from the same period.  

If it is an “autograph” work, it would be one of fewer than 20 known paintings definitively accepted as being by Leonardo.