Culture

Saudi Prince Identified as Buyer of $450.3M Leonardo Painting "Salvator Mundi"

Saudi Prince Identified as Buyer of $450.3M Leonardo Painting

Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud was described by the Times as "little known" with "no publicly known source of great wealth", but managed to walk away with what is called the most expensive painting in the world - $450.3 million at auction. Though he comes from the distant Al Farhan branch of the royal family (related to an 18th century ruler), the Times reported that Bader is a close friend of Prince Mohammed, the de-facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.

The revelation of Times published this Wednesday is known on same day that it was announced that painting will be exhibited in Louvre of Abu Dhabi.

In November, a new art auction record was made when Leonardo Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi, a recently rediscovered masterpiece dated circa 1500, was sold for $450 million at Christie's in New York City.

"Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi is coming to #LouvreAbuDhabi", the museum said on Twitter in Arabic, English and French.

The buyer of the painting was revealed through certain documents reviewed by the New York Times. This can be linked to what he said to the lawyers of Christie regarding his financial sources.

Auction house Christie's has also steadfastly declined to identify the buyer, whose purchase in NY for $450.3 million stunned the art world.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is behind the purchase of most expensive painting ever sold at auction.

The newspaper said that the work will be lent or resold to museums, largely in the Middle East and Asia.

But Prince Mohammed, whom the Times describes as King Salman's favored son and key adviser, has himself been criticized for his spending habits, including impulsively spending half a billion dollars on a yacht past year while at the same time slashing capital spending by 71 percent.

The latter detail, however, was in fact far from reassuring: Saudi Arabia's many princes have caused quite a stir in the news lately, as last month the country's government detained more than 200 people in a crackdown on corruption and embezzled funds amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars, which included singling out many of its most prominent princes.

Salvator Mundi has a controversial history, with at least one expert doubting that it is the work of Renaissance master da Vinci.

He had bought the painting in 2013 for $127.5 million although he later accused a Swiss art dealer of overcharging him.



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