Saudi buyer of Leonardo's Salvator Mundi has royal cash link

Saudi buyer of Leonardo's Salvator Mundi has royal cash link

Saudi buyer of Leonardo's Salvator Mundi has royal cash link

But the Journal, citing "US government intelligence and a Middle East art-world figure familiar with the purchase", said Bader acted as a proxy for the heir to the Saudi throne.

Yesterday, the New York Times claimed to have cracked the biggest art world mystery of the year, identifying an obscure Saudi prince, Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, as the buyer of the $450.3 million Leonardo da Vinci painting "Salvator Mundi" at Christie's last month.

The Journal reported that Bader was the nominal buyer, but said MBS was identified in United States intelligence reports as the true owner.

The painting is now owned by Saudi Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, The New York Times reports, and it will be on display at the new Louvre branch in Abu Dhabi.

That sum easily eclipsed the previous art record of $179m (£115m) for a Pablo Picasso work sold in 2015.

He had bought the painting in 2013 for $127.5 million although he later accused a Swiss art dealer of overcharging him.

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.

Prince Bader, the named buyer, has no publicly known source of wealth that would enable him to make such an expensive purchase.

The Saudi crown prince is a close ally of his counterpart in Abu Dhabi.

Understand the world with sharp insight and commentary on the major news stories of the week. 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.

When King Salman appointed Prince Mohammed to overlook most of the governmental activities, Prince Bader was asked to take over high positions by the prince.

The work - known as Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World) by Leonardo da Vinci - is is heading to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the museum has said. Other anonymous bidders vied for the work, but their names have not yet been revealed.

The Louvre has not disclosed whether it will receive the painting as a gift, a loan or a rental.

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

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