Report: Secret buyer of $450 million Leonardo da Vinci painting revealed to be a Saudi prince

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A Saudi prince has been revealed as the buyer of the world's most expensive painting, priced at a staggering $450 million in an auction at the world-famous Christie's Auction House in November.

Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud has been identified as the mystery buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi," according to a New York Times report published Wednesday. Prince Bader, part of a distant branch of the wealthy royal family, is not generally known as a major art collector or someone with a large source of wealth, according to The Times.

 

Christie's representatives attempted to identify Prince Bader and his source of finances before the sale, after he gave a $100 million deposit to qualify for the auction, The Times said. Pressed for more information, Prince Bader reportedly gave a terse reply, saying he was in the real estate business and was one of the country's 5,000 princes.

Prince Bader is also reportedly a friend and associate of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who recently embarked on a countrywide crackdown on corruption that touched $100 billion and implicated over 200 people, including members of the royal elite. The nature of the painting - a rendition of Christ - and the timing of the purchase - less than two weeks after the corruption purge - calls into question whether the Crown Prince has been selectively targeting people in the crackdown, The Times reported.

Although Prince Badar did not respond to The Times' detailed request for comment, the Louvre in Abu Dhabi - a museum in the United Arab Emirates - tweeted Wednesday that the "Salvator Mundi" was "coming to Louvre Abu Dhabi," The Times said.

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