Saudi Prince Identified As Buyer Of $450m Da Vinci Salvator Mundi

Carla Harmon
December 8, 2017

"The image of the crown prince spending that much money to buy a painting when he's supposed to be leading an anticorruption drive is staggering", an expert on Saudi Arabia and former Central Intelligence Agency officer told the WSJ.

The news initially made a splash on Twitter with many questioning how Prince Bader could afford such an expensive purchase with his lower ranking position in the royal family.

Attendants last month at a New York City art sale gasped after an anonymous buyer put up a baffling $450.3 million for Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" - making it the most expensive painting ever sold at auction.

An official at the Saudi Embassy in Washington declined to comment on Thursday.

The victor of the NY auction was Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed. His statement did not mention the painting or address whether he had bought it.

As for Prince Bader, when he's not palling around with Prince Mohammed, he also works on side projects like partnerships with those ranging from Verizon to Michael Bloomberg, as well as large program he founded to manage the country's recycling. He has been pressuring them to sign over hundreds of billions of dollars in assets in deals to avoid prosecution and secure their freedom. Nor does he have any publicly known history as a major art collector. The mass purge was in fact ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who organized a series of midnight arrests that included 11 of his royal cousins-who happens to be one of Prince Bader's friends and associates.

When King Salman appointed Prince Mohammed to overlook most of the governmental activities, Prince Bader was asked to take over high positions by the prince.

The painting will be exhibited at the Abu Dhabi branch of the Louvre, according to a tweet by the museum yesterday.

Christie's, the auction house that handled the sale, did not disclose the name of the buyer of "Salvator Mundi", but documents related to the sale that were reviewed by The Times identified the purchaser as Prince Bader.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has undertaken an anti-corruption campaign, bought the painting using a distant relative as a "proxy," the newspaper said Thursday, citing a source in the US government intelligence community and a Saudi art-world figure familiar with the purchase.

Other reports by iNewsToday