Rabat - The mysterious buyer of the Leonardo Da Vinci portrait of Jesus Christ has been identified by US intelligence forces as the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, settling a mystery that lasted for a month.
Rabat – The mysterious buyer of the Leonardo Da Vinci portrait of Jesus Christ has been identified by US intelligence forces as the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, settling a mystery that lasted for a month.
For a sweeping USD 450.3 million at a New York auction last month, the purchase of the last available painting by Da Vinci by the Crown Prince has raised eyebrows, particularly since he is leading an anti-corruption purge in Saudi Arabia.
“The USD 450.3 million purchase is the clearest indication yet of the selective nature of the crackdown,” said The New York Times.
“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, a former CIA officer and leading expert on Saudi politics, told Wall Street Journal.
But the purchase also fits with the image bin Salman is trying to cultivate as a liberal reformer. The young crown prince is keen on cultural development and is pushing to modernize Saudi Islam, through challenging traditional clerics and the kingdom’s morality police.
The Crown prince had Prince Bader bin Abdullah, a Saudi royal with a relatively low public profile, acti as an intermediary for the purchase.
Prince Bader arranged to pay for the purchase in installments over six months, with the last installment of USD 58,385,416.65 due on May 14.
According to the Times, he originally he wanted to pay for the painting “in one lump sum.”
The legendary panting will be exhibited this week at the new branch of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, the museum announced.
Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi became the most expensive painting ever bought at an auction, beating off the USD 179.4 million spent on Pablo Picasso’s “Women of Algiers (Version O)”.
It is also more expensive than the USD 300 million for Willem de Kooning’s painting “Interchange,” previously the most expensive painting ever bought.