Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Is True Buyer of Da Vinci, WSJ Reports

Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Is True Buyer of Da Vinci, WSJ Reports

Saudi Arabia's crown prince has named as the mystery buyer who shelled out $450million for a Leonardo da Vinci painting, according to reports. But according to USA intelligence reports, Bader bought it on behalf of the crown prince, who is a distant relative.

The purchase was the highest in the world, beating the previous record for an art sale at auction which was held by a painting by Picasso bought for $179.4 million.

The Journal reported that Bader was the nominal buyer, but said MBS was identified in U.S. intelligence reports as the true owner.

Christie's has declined to comment on the buyer.

Making a record-breaking art purchase in his own name might be awkward for the crown prince because he is leading a sweeping crackdown on corruption and self-enrichment by the elite of the kingdom - including some of his royal cousins.


However, it is now believed that he only acted as a proxy for the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Also, the painting depicts Jesus as the "savior of the world and master of the cosmos", (with his right hand raised in benediction and his left holding a transparent rock crystal orb), a belief that contradicts with Islam's view of Jesus being a prophet.

Christie's postwar and contemporary art co-chairman Alex Rotter was representing Prince Bader during the auction, who, interestingly, is not well-known as an art collector.

On Wednesday, Louvre Abu Dhabi, an art and civilization museum which opened last month, tweeted that "Salvator Mundi" would be exhibited there, with no timeline for the event provided.

But the painting could also be seen as a symbol of a new kind of Saudi Arabia, whose prince has made initial moves to modernise the country.

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