Culture

Saudi Prince Revealed as Buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi'

Saudi Prince Revealed as Buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi'”

A Saudi prince has been revealed to be the mystery buyer of the $450.3million Leonardo da Vinici painting of Christ that is now heading to the Louvre Abu Dhabi in a coup for the bold new museum.

The buyer's identity, reported by the New York Times this evening, was discovered in the midst of an investigation into Saudi Arabia's elite class, including Prince Bader's family and associates, who have been criticized for their showy displays of wealth.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened on Nov 8 in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron, who described the new museum as a "bridge between civilisations".

The post displayed an image of the 500-year-old work but did not identify its owner.

The announcement only partially resolves the mystery over the painting's sale last month in NY for US$450.3 million, with auction house Christie's steadfastly declining to identify the buyer.

'Congratulations, ' Christie's said in a tweeted reply to the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

The Times said the huge purchase comes at a curious time for Saudi Arabia when Prince Mohammed cracked down on more than 200 of the richest Saudi princes, businessmen, and government officials after the country had been pressed by low oil prices.

Prince Mohammed, in turn, has been called an admirer of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

The French weekly le Journal du Dimanche earlier reported that two investment firms were behind the painting's purchase as part of a financial arrangement involving several museums.

Christie's representatives attempted to identify Prince Bader and his source of finances before the sale, after he gave a $100 million deposit to qualify for the auction, The Times said.

According to the paper, the prince's representatives did not reveal his interest in the painting until the day before the auction, which was held in NY on November 15. According to the New York Times, Prince Bader is paying for Salvator Mundi in six installments, with at least five of them priced at more than $58 million. According to Christie's auction house, which handled the sale, it is the only known Da Vinci piece remaining in private hands. It was sold for just thousands in 2005 but was bought again in 2013 for $127.5 million by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev.



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