Saudi prince is $450.3 mn Da Vinci art buyer at auction

Brunilde Fioravanti
Dicembre 7, 2017

Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is reportedly behind the purchase of the most expensive painting ever sold at auction, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Unlike much of the Saudi elite, which has been scooped up or intimidated into silence by Prince Mohammed's ongoing purge, Prince Bader appears to be in good standing with the heir apparent to King Salman's thrown.

The famous Leonardo da Vinci painting of Jesus Christ was headed for the new Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, according to Agence France-Presse.

Stepfeed's Managing Editor Jason Lemon revealed that "Salvatore Mundi's" mysterious buyer is Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud. The painting was sold November 15 for $450 million.

A mystery that New York Daily has solved from documents it has obtained.

After a spectacle of a publicity campaign comparable to that of a summer blockbuster movie, Christie's expected Salvator Mundi, reportedly Leonardo da Vinci's last painting in private hands, to sell for around $100 million.

The stunning amount paid by a Saudi royal for a painting that some believe is not a genuine Da Vinci, like reports of Mohammed bin Salman's profilgacy on yachts and similar luxury items, casts in sharp doubt Riyadh's claims of cracking down on extravagence and corruption.

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 a year ago while at the same time slashing capital spending by 71 percent. Prince Bader, part of a distant branch of the wealthy royal family, is not generally known as a major art collector or someone with a large source of wealth, according to The Times.

"Prince Mohammed also put Prince Bader in charge of governing a commission overseeing the development of Al Ola, which contains an important archaeological site".

The firm's website describes him as "one of Saudi Arabia's youngest" entrepreneurs, present in sectors including real estate, telecommunications and recycling. In fact, Prince Bader now serves as the chairman of Saudi Research and Marketing Group, which was traditionally controlled directly by the crown prince's family. This can be linked to what he said to the lawyers of Christie regarding his financial sources.

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

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