Culture&Arts

Saudi Prince is mystery Da Vinci buyer

Saudi Prince is mystery Da Vinci buyer

But the work will give Riyadh bragging rights in a regional tug-of-war for some of the most expensive art works in the world. But now, the name has come to the light.

The mystery over who paid a record-breaking $450 million for Leonardo da Vinci's painting Salvator Mundi at an auction last month appears to have been solved.

But as The Times was pressing for a response on Wednesday, the newly opened branch of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, tweeted that the painting "is coming to Louvre Abu Dhabi".

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

That's according to USA intelligence officials who keep a close eye on the kingdom's young and powerful crown prince, says the Wall Street Journal.




Salvator Mundi - dated to around 1500 - is the last known Da Vinci in the hands of a private collector.

The painting - one of fewer than 20 works generally accepted as being by the Renaissance master, according to Christie's - was officially bought by little-known Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, reports say.

Normally, news of a wealthy and powerful member of Saudi Arabia's royal family buying a piece of art would not raise any interest.

According to the paper, Prince Bader, who is involved in several businesses in his homeland, is a close friend of the heir to the Saudi throne, Mohammad bin Salman, who is now heading an extensive anti-corruption drive in Saudi Arabia.

A Saudi art world figure told the Wall Street Journal that "this deal was done via a proxy". A spokeswoman for Christie's said it did not comment on the identities of any buyer or seller without their permission. Alas, concern looms that the prince's move to purchase a painting of Jesus Christ could be considered anti-Islam by conservative clerics in the Muslim-majority country.


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