Culture&Arts

Mundi buyer was a Saudi prince

Mundi buyer was a Saudi prince

Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" sold for $450.3 million last month. It could prove to be a precedent that doesn't bold well for the future of the art market.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened earlier this month in the United Arab Emirates having cost £1bn to build in a 10-year project.

As in most high-profile auction deals, the name of the buyer was unknown.

Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud shelled out the big bucks for the art work, as reported by The New York Times.

The Gulf has been the destination for a number of great art works in recent years, especially with the purchase power of countries like Qatar, which is home to a $300m museum for Islamic Art and has spent hundreds of millions on work by Mark Rothko, Paul Cezanne and Paul Gauguin. 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.




It also did not confirm the Saudi prince as the new owner but the New York Times later reported it had seen documents confirming him at the mystery buyer. The mass purge was in fact ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who organized a series of midnight arrests that included 11 of his royal cousins-who happens to be one of Prince Bader's friends and associates.

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.

He was the chairman (appointed by Prince Mohammed) of Saudi Research and Marketing Group, the publisher of Arab newspaper Al Share Al Awsat and other publications. After all, it is a painting of Jesus. A depiction of any prophet in the Quran including Jesus who is an accepted Muslim prophet and precursor to Mohammed would be considered unholy.

Less than two weeks before the auction for the painting took place, on November 15, Prince Mohammed ordered the extrajudicial detention of at least 200 of the kingdom's richest businessmen, officials and princes in a Ritz Carlton hotel. Christie's however, decided it would be better to put the Prince on a six-payment installment plans that's calculated right down to the cent.

On Wednesday, the Louvre Abu Dhabi announced that the record-breaking Da Vinci painting would be displayed there.


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