Saudi prince is $450.3 mn Da Vinci art buyer at auction

Salvator Mundi Leonardo da Vinci

Unlike much of the Saudi elite, which has been scooped up or intimidated into silence by Prince Mohammed's ongoing purge, Prince Bader appears to be in good standing with the heir apparent to King Salman's thrown.

Painted in oil on a wooden board measuring 18 by 26 inches, "Salvator Mundi" shows its subject gazing dreamily at the viewer, his right hand raised in benediction, while his left clutches a crystal orb.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi opened on Nov 8 in the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron, who described the new museum as a "bridge between civilisations".

In November, a new art auction record was made when Leonardo Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi, a recently rediscovered masterpiece dated circa 1500, was sold for $450 million at Christie's in New York City.

Also, The New York Times posted documents that emphasized the cultural and artistic role of Prince Bader in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Louvre Abu Dhabi is a joint project between the French government and the city of Abu Dhabi, to which Saudi's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is a close ally.

Prince Bader has no history as a major art collector but is a friend and associate of Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Times said.

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But Prince Mohammed, whom the Times describes as King Salman's favored son and key adviser, has himself been criticized for his spending habits, including impulsively spending half a billion dollars on a yacht previous year while at the same time slashing capital spending by 71 percent.

Little is known about Bader bin Abdullah, who lists his primary source of income as real estate. But the Times investigation found that he certainly owns more than property.

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. Prince Bader did not respond to a detailed request for comment.

Prince Mohammed also put Prince Bader in charge of governing a commission overseeing the development of Al Ola, which contains an important archaeological site.

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. It was sold for just thousands in 2005 but was bought again in 2013 for $127.5 million by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev.

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