NEW YORK – The mysterious buyer who last month acquired the Leonardo da Vinci painting “Salvator Mundi” for $450 million is a Saudi prince, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
The painting, a representation of Jesus Christ, was bid to the highest auction price ever achieved to date for a work of art. According to Christie’s auction house, which handled the sale, it is the only known Da Vinci piece remaining in private hands.
According to The New York Times, the buyer was Saudi Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, according to documents to which the paper obtained access.
In an article datelined London, the daily said that Bader is a “little known” prince who is part of a “remote branch” of the Saudi royal family and without any known experience as a major art collector.
As usually occurs in these situations, Christie’s has not revealed the name of the buyer. The Saudi prince in question did not respond to attempts by The Times to contact him on the matter, the daily reported.
The report emerged the same day that it was announced that “Salvator Mundi” will next be publicly displayed at the opening of a branch of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates
According to the paper, the prince’s representatives did not reveal his interest in the painting until the day before the auction, which was held in New York on Nov. 15.
In order to participate in the bidding, the prince put $100 million on deposit with the auction house, although Christie’s subsequently asked for additional information, including the origin of the money he was putting up, with the prince stating simply that it came from “real estate,” The Times reported.
According to the paper, Prince Bader, who is involved in several businesses in his homeland, is a close friend of the heir to the Saudi throne, Mohammad bin Salman, who is currently heading an extensive anti-corruption drive in Saudi Arabia. The pair of princes reportedly got to know each other while attending King Saud University in Riyadh.