Saudi Prince Identified as Buyer of $450.3M Leonardo Painting “Salvator Mundi”
08 December, 2017, 03:08
Prince Bader, in a statement published Thursday in a Saudi newspaper owned by a company he leads, said he had "read with great surprise the report published about me in The New York Times newspaper and the unusual and inaccurate information it contained".
The Times said documents provided by a Saudi source showed Bader was not presented as a bidder until the day before the 15 November sale in NY. The group has been in the hands of the Salmans for 30 years, the newspaper reported.
He was appointed by Prince Mohammed as the governor of a newly formed commission to develop a tourist destination project led by Prince Mohammed. Last week, the Saudi news channel Al Arabiya reported bin Salman had posed for selfies there with locals and went "dune-bashing" in a buggy.
The firm's website describes him as "one of Saudi Arabia's youngest" entrepreneurs, present in sectors including real estate, telecommunications and recycling.
According to International Business Times, Bader keeps a very low profile.
While auction house Christie's, which sold the Salvator Mundi, do not doubt its authenticity, many in the art world still harbour concerns about the work.
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Bidding opened at $100m and began jumping by increments of up to $10m. Still, its most recent owner remained unknown until this week-and, it turns out, completely unknown to Christie's until the day before the auction.
By that point, bidders were whittled down to two. When that was matched, he jumped to $400m and won.
A contract was drawn up specifying six monthly instalments. The final price of $450m includes fees for the auction.
The crown prince's supporters portray him as a reformer, but the campaign of extrajudicial arrests has been unprecedented for modern Saudi Arabia, worrying western governments about political stability in the world's largest oil producer, alarming rights advocates and investors about the rule of law, and roiling energy markets.
"The image of the crown prince spending that much money to buy a painting when he's supposed to be leading an anti-corruption drive is staggering", Bruce Riedel, ex-CIA officer and leading expert on Saudi politics told the WSJ.
A Saudi prince has been revealed to be the mystery buyer of the $450.3million Leonardo da Vinici painting of Christ that is now heading to the Louvre Abu Dhabi in a coup for the bold new museum.
Bader is one of more than 5,000 princes in Saudi Arabia.
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