Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Mystery Solved: Saudi Prince Is Buyer Of $450M DaVinci Painting

Mystery Solved: Saudi Prince Is Buyer Of $450M DaVinci Painting

A Saudi prince spent $450.3m on Leonardo da Vinci's portrait of Jesus Christ at a NY auction last month and it will be exhibited at the new branch of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi.

The New York Times on Wednesday, citing documents it reviewed, identified the buyer as Saudi Arabia's Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, whose country forbids the official worship of Christ or any other religion except Islam.

Prince Bader, a friend of Saudi Arabia's young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is not known as a major art collector, but has extensive dealings in the real estate, telecommunications, and recycling industries in Saudi Arabia, according to his profile on the website of the company Energy Holdings International, on whose board of directors he once served.

The painting is expected to arrive at the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, a museum in the United Arab Emirates.

"Salvatore Mundi" is a portrait of Jesus Christ that dates back to year 1500.

The highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction had been $179.4m for Pablo Picasso's painting Women of Algiers (Version O).

The painting is one of the few last artworks created by da Vinci that is known to exist.

Christie's capitalised on the public's interest in Leonardo - considered one of the greatest artists of all time - with a media campaign that labelled the painting The Last Da Vinci. Also, the prince has not commented regarding his recent purchase. It once belonged to King Charles I of England and disappeared for centuries before resurfacing in 1958, having undergone heavy repainting.

Christie's said that most scholars, however, still believe that the Salvator Mundi they recently sold was the one painted by da Vinci.

Bin Salman's motives have previously come into question after it was discovered that the young prince had extravagantly chose to buy a half a billion dollar 440-foot yacht from a Russian vodka titan on an impulse.

The painting was later sold by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who bought it in 2013 for $US127.5 million in a private sale that became the subject of a continuing lawsuit.

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