How the Mysterious Da Vinci Buyer Is Related to Saudi's Crown Prince

Salvator Mundi Leonardo da Vinci

Salvator Mundi Leonardo da Vinci

Another mysterious fact regarding the painting was revealed when the official Twitter account of The Louver Abu Dhabi posted on Monday that the painting will be among the exhibited works in the museum.

United States government intelligence sources and a Saudi art-world figure all confirmed to The Journal that Crown Prince Mohammed was the buyer of a $450 million Leonardo da Vinci painting of Jesus Christ. A spokeswoman for Christie's said it did not comment on the identities of any buyer or seller without their permission.

It had sold for a mere 45 British pounds in 1958, when the painting was thought to have been a copy, and was lost until it resurfaced at a regional auction in 2005. Though he comes from the distant Al Farhan branch of the royal family (related to an 18th century ruler), the Times reported that Bader is a close friend of Prince Mohammed, the de-facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.

Record-breaking art purchase of famous Christ portrait for $450bn was made by Prince Salman's "friend and associate".


Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud was described by the Times as "little known" with "no publicly known source of great wealth", but managed to walk away with what is called the most expensive painting in the world - $450.3 million at auction. The report stated the purchase happened at a time when members of the royal family and even the elite in the Saudi Arabia are being scrutinized as part of a crackdown on corruption.

Documents provided from inside Saudi Arabia and reviewed by The Times reveal that representatives for the buyer, Prince Bader, did not present him as a bidder until the day before the sale. 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 Saudi art-world figure told The Journal that Prince Bader "is a proxy" for Prince Mohammed.

"Prince Mohammed also put Prince Bader in charge of governing a commission overseeing the development of Al Ola, which contains an important archaeological site". This can be linked to what he said to the lawyers of Christie regarding his financial sources. Pressed for more information, Prince Bader reportedly gave a terse reply, saying he was in the real estate business and was one of the country's 5,000 princes. This could be because Prince Mohammed is a supporter and ally of Abu Dhabi's crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

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