Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
Life&Culture | By Rose Hansen

Mystery Salvator Mundi buyer was a Saudi prince

Mystery Salvator Mundi buyer was a Saudi prince

"The image of the crown prince spending that much money to buy a painting when he's supposed to be leading an anticorruption drive is staggering", an expert on Saudi Arabia and former Central Intelligence Agency officer told the WSJ. United States intelligence reports, it seems, corroborated this version of events, noting that Prince Bader has previously collaborated with MBS on various deals and transactions.

1500), which as of last month is the most expensive artwork ever sold, is the Saudi prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, according to ARTnews.

The Journal reported that Bader was the nominal buyer, but said MBS was identified in USA intelligence reports as the true owner. He is little-known Saudi prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud.

The sale more than doubled the previous record of $179.4 million paid for Pablo Picasso's 'The Women of Algiers (Version O)' in 2015, also in NY. His statement did not mention the painting or address whether he had bought it.

Neither Prince Bader nor Christie's confirmed the speculation. He has been pressuring them to sign over hundreds of billions of dollars in assets in deals to avoid prosecution and secure their freedom.

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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. Nor does he have any publicly known history as a major art collector.

He also seems to move closely in the orbit of his contemporary, Crown Prince Mohammed... In fact, Prince Bader now serves as the chairman of Saudi Research and Marketing Group, which was traditionally controlled directly by the crown prince's family.

But Prince Mohammed, whom the Times describes as King Salman's favored son and key adviser, has himself been criticized for his spending habits, including impulsively spending half a billion dollars on a yacht a year ago while at the same time slashing capital spending by 71 percent.

Christie's, the auction house that sold the painting, disclosed that the Da Vinci will be going to the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Over 600 objects and paintings have been loaned to the museum.

He may be busy leading a crackdown on the alleged ill-gotten gains of his political rivals, but Saudi Arabia's Mohammed Bin Salman looks like he still has time for the finer things in life.

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