Saudi prince is $450.3 mn Da Vinci art buyer at auction

Salvator Mundi Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci's “Salvator Mundi,” or “Savior of the World,” dating from around 1500. Dennis Van Tine STAR MAX

The new owner of table Salvator Mundi, an interpretation of Christ by Leonardo Da Vinci, is Saudi Arabian Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohamed bin Farhan al Saud, according to an investigation of NY Times.

But on Wednesday, Louvre Abu Dhabi (which opened in November) announced the upcoming arrival of the painting on twitter.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is behind the purchase of most expensive painting ever sold at auction.

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. But according to United States intelligence reports, Bader bought it on behalf of the crown prince, who is a distant relative.

Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud was identified as the mystery buyer in a New York Times report published Wednesday, but is now reported to be a proxy for the crown prince. Even then, Christie's lawyers remained suspicious, persisting in asking him where he got the money and what his relationship was with the Saudi ruler, King Salman.

He is a little-known Saudi prince from a remote branch of the royal family, with no history as a major art collector, and no publicly known source of great wealth.

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Bader is one of more than 5,000 princes in Saudi Arabia. But the Times investigation found that he certainly owns more than property.

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 previous year while at the same time slashing capital spending by 71 percent.

The young and dynamic crown prince, known by his initials MBS, used an intermediary to buy the much-sought-after painting of Christ, "Salvator Mundi", the newspaper reported, citing U.S. intelligence and other unnamed sources.

The newspaper said that the work will be lent or resold to museums, largely in the Middle East and Asia.

As for Prince Bader, when he's not palling around with Prince Mohammed, he also works on side projects like partnerships with those ranging from Verizon to Michael Bloomberg, as well as large program he founded to manage the country's recycling.

Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi", or "Savior of the World", dating from around 1500.

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