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Mystery buyer of Leonardo’s $450M painting of Jesus identified as Saudi prince


Tolga Akmen | AFP

Zelda Caldwell - published on 12/07/17

The extravagant record-breaking purchase comes in the midst of a crackdown on personal enrichment in the kingdom

In a surprising development in the art world, the New York Times reported that last month’s mystery buyer of Leonardo da Vinci’s $450 million painting of Jesus, “Salvator Mundi,” was a little-known Saudi Prince.

Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin arhan al-Saud, the New York Times reported, is not known to be a major art collector, and is a friend and associate of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

The timing of the purchase is puzzling, coming in the midst of Prince Mohammad’s crackdown on corruption and self-enrichment in Saudi Arabia. On November 4, the Times reported, the crown prince detained 200 of the richest Saudi princes, businessmen and government officials.

Why a Saudi prince with close ties to the regime would risk offending Muslims within his country with an extravagant purchase of a painting of Jesus Christ as Savior of the world, is similarly mystifying.

The Times reported that while Prince Bader did not respond to a request to comment, the newly opened branch of the Louvre in Adu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, tweeted on Wednesday that “Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi is coming to 3LouvreAbuDhabi.”


Read more:
Leonardo’s painting of Jesus sells for a record $450 million

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