The buyer of the $450.3million Leonardo Da Vinci painting has been revealed to be Saudi royal Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud (above)
A Saudi prince has been revealed to be the mystery buyer of the $450.3million Leonardo da Vinci painting of Christ that is now heading to the Louvre Abu Dhabi in a coup for the bold new museum.
Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud shelled out the staggering amount on da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ during an auction last month at Christie’s in New York City to make it the most expensive painting ever sold.
The New York Times confirmed that Prince Bader purchased the rare painting after citing documents it had reviewed while in the midst of an investigation into Saudi Arabia’s elite class, including his family and associates.
Prince Bader is not well-known as an art collector and comes from a remote branch of the royal family.
The expensive price tag for the painting is now raising questions over who has been both targeted and spared in the Saudi regime’s far-reaching corruption crackdown.
For several weeks, dozens of elites and even some royal family members have been imprisoned at hotels in the country amid Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ostensible crusade against the perceived self-enrichment in the conservative kingdom.
The iconic painting, ‘Salvator Mundi,’ is one of fewer than 20 paintings generally accepted as being from Leonardo Da Vinci’s own hand
Prince Bader is the Chairman of the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), which just inked a deal to launch ‘Bloomberg Al Arabiya’ network back in September. He is pictured above with former New York City Mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg
However, Prince Bader has not been targeted in the crackdown and some have speculated that is because he is reportedly a close friend and associate of Prince Mohammed – the Crown Prince.
Outside of buying the painting, which he is paying for in six installments with at least five of them priced at more than $58million, Prince Bader has reportedly spent plenty of money on several pricey commodities in recent years including a half a billion dollars on a 440-foot yacht.
Prince Bader is the Chairman of the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), which just inked a deal to launch ‘Bloomberg Al Arabiya’ network back in September, ArabNews.com reported.
SRMG is the largest publishing company that provides products and services by publishing newspapers and magazines globally and across the Middle East.
On Wednesday, the museum announced on Twitter in Arabic, English and French that the art work was heading to the Louvre in Abu Dhabi.
‘Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi is coming to #LouvreAbuDhabi,’ the museum said on Twitter, displaying an image of the 500-year-old work.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first museum to bear the Louvre name outside France, has been billed as ‘the first universal museum in the Arab world’ in a sign of the oil-rich emirate’s global ambitions.
‘Congratulations,’ Christie’s said in a tweeted reply to the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Painted in oil on a wooden board measuring 18 by 26 inches, ‘Salvator Mundi’ shows its subject gazing dreamily at the viewer, his right hand raised in benediction, while his left clutches a crystal orb.
The French weekly le Journal du Dimanche first reported that two investment firms were behind the shocking purchase as part of a financial arrangement involving several museums.
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 New York.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened on November 8 in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron, who described the new museum as a ‘bridge between civilizations.’
It is the first of three museums slated to open on the emirate’s Saadiyat Island, with plans also in place for an edition of New York’s Guggenheim.
The island will also feature the Zayed National Museum, which had signed a loan deal with the British Museum — although the arrangement has come increasingly into question due to construction delays.
Featuring a vast silver-toned dome, the Louvre Abu Dhabi was designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, drawing inspiration from Arab design and evoking both an open desert and the sea.
The painting is now heading to the recently opened Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum (above) to go on display. It is the first museum to bear the Louvre name outside France
The Louvre Abu Dhabi (above) has been billed as ‘the first universal museum in the Arab world’ in a sign of the oil-rich emirate’s global ambitions
The museum opened with some 600 pieces including items from early Mesopotamia. Under a 30-year agreement, France provides expertise, lends works of art and organizes exhibitions in return for one billion euros ($1.16 billion).
The first works on loan from the Louvre in Paris include another painting by Da Vinci — ‘La Belle Ferronniere,’ one of his portraits of women.
‘Salvator Mundi,’ which means ‘Savior of the World,’ went on public display in 2011 in a dramatic unveiling at The National Gallery in London, where the work was declared to be the first newly discovered Da Vinci painting in a century.
It is one of fewer than 20 paintings generally accepted as being from the Renaissance master’s own hand, according to Christie’s.
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.
Its latest sale was initiated by Russian tycoon Dmitry Rybolovlev, the boss of football club AS Monaco.
He had bought the painting in 2013 for $127.5 million although he later accused a Swiss art dealer of overcharging him.
Da Vinci died in 1519 and there are fewer than 20 of his paintings in existence. Thousands flock daily to the Louvre in Paris to see his masterpiece, Mona Lisa (file above)