Saudi prince buyer of da Vinci painting

Saudi prince buyer of da Vinci painting

The mystery buyer for the iconic painting titled "Salvator Mundi" that was sold last month at auction house Christie's in New York is Saudi royal Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, according to the New York Times.

The revelation that Prince Bader is the purchaser, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times, links one of the most captivating mysteries of the art world with palace intrigues in Saudi Arabia that are shaking the region. The winning bidder? Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud.

He is a little-known Saudi prince from a remote branch of the royal family, with no history as a major art collector, and no publicly known source of great wealth.

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

Prince Bader, in a statement published on Thursday in a Saudi newspaper owned by a company he leads, said he had "read with great surprise the report published about me in The New York Times newspaper and the unusual and inaccurate information it contained". But the timing on this purchase was notable. Most are being detained at a luxury hotel in the capital, Riyadh.

Abu Dhabi crown prince Mohammed bin Zayed is a close ally of the Saudi crown prince.

The identity of the buyer became something of a parlor game. At that time he put down a $100 million deposit to qualify for bidding. The prince's response was that he made his money in real estate, and that he was just one of some 5,000 Saudi princes.

Christie's let the cat out of the bag yesterday and publically said the artwork would be going to the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

While The Times was awaiting comment from Prince Bader or the Saudi Embassy in Washington on Wednesday, the newly opened branch of the Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, announced that it expected to receive the painting.

The choice of painting is also curious.

The 66-centimetre painting dates from about 1500 and shows Christ dressed in Renaissance-style robes, his right hand raised in blessing, his left hand holding a crystal sphere.

The Journal says the painting was offered to the royal family in Qatar - Saudi Arabia's regional rival - in 2011 for a mere $80 million. The painting's authenticity is still widely questioned by many experts, while the issue of overpainting, restoration and conservation will always be an underlying issue.

Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" sold for $450.3 million last month.

. Russian billionaire Dmitry E. Rybolovlev was the previous owner, who paid $127.5 million in 2013.

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