Saudi Prince Identified as Buyer of $450.3M Leonardo Painting "Salvator Mundi"


The buyer of the most expensive painting in the world, the "Salvator Mundi" by Leonardo da Vinci, was found to be Saudi Arabian prince, Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud.

On Wednesday, the newly opened branch of Louvre in Abu Dhabi posted a tweet saying the "Salvator Mundi" was coming to their museum.

Prince Bader is also reportedly a friend and associate of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who recently embarked on a countrywide crackdown on corruption that touched $100 billion and implicated over 200 people, including members of the royal elite.

On Wednesday, a New York Times investigation revealed the identity of the mysterious buyer, citing insider documents. As one of the seven sheikhdoms in the United Arab Emirates, and the one with the largest oil reserves, Abu Dhabi is entwined in a Saudi Arabian-led dispute with neighbouring Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism. Buyers from the Middle East and Asia have been snapping up masterpieces to fill regional museums in China and the Middle East.

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Just to qualify as a bidder for the last privately-owned da Vinci in the world, Prince Bader had to jump through several hoops.

It has now been revealed who paid $450 million for a painting by Leonardo da Vinci.

The auction house said no more, and a Christie's representative declined to offer more details. This could be because Prince Mohammed is a supporter and ally of Abu Dhabi's crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

2011, saw the dramatic public unveiling of Salvator Mundi ('Savior of the World') in the exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan, at The National Gallery, London. This can be linked to what he said to the lawyers of Christie regarding his financial sources.

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The Times reported the "Salvator Mundi" sale doubled the price of the previous record-holder, Pablo Picasso's "The Women of Algiers", which sold for $179.4 million in 2015 in NY.

It is one of fewer than 20 paintings generally accepted as being from the Renaissance master's own hand, according to Christie's.

Meanwhile, Salvator Mundi has had a controversial history, with one expert doubting if it is still the original work of da Vinci. The report stated the price of the painting went up to $400 million, which ended the auction with Prince Bader winning the bid. It was later purchased by art dealers, restored and eventually sold to Russian businessman Dmitry Rybolovlev for $127.5 million.

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