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07 December 2017, 08:42 | Regina Holmes
WATCH: Art agents frantically bid on a rare $450 million painting
Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud was described by the Times as "little known" with "no publicly known source of great wealth", but managed to walk away with what is called the most expensive painting in the world - $450.3 million at auction.
The "Salvator Mundi" painting mystery buyer last month was revealed by The New York Times on Wednesday as a Saudi Prince from a remote branch of the royal family. The crown prince of Saudi Arabia and his counterpart in Abu Dhabi enjoy a close working relationship and on 5 December their countries announced the formation of a Joint Cooperation Committee to formalise existing collaboration on military, political, economic and cultural matters. As one of the seven sheikhdoms in the United Arab Emirates, and the one with the largest oil reserves, Abu Dhabi is entwined in a Saudi Arabian-led dispute with neighbouring Qatar over its alleged support for terrorism.
Christie's sold it to an anonymous buyer last month, and said it did not comment on the identities of buyers or sellers without their permission. This could be because Prince Mohammed is a supporter and ally of Abu Dhabi's crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.
The highest known sale price for any artwork had been $US300 million, for Willem de Kooning's painting, Interchange.
The museum opened with some 600 pieces including items from early Mesopotamia. The painting was sold November 15 for $450 million.
The Museum already houses one of Leonardo's finest works.
Salvator Mundi, which means Saviour of the World, went on public display in 2011 in a dramatic unveiling at the National Gallery in London, where the work was declared to be the first newly discovered Da Vinci painting in a century.
Dating from the 1500s, the painting was billed as the final Leonardo work held in private hands, one of roughly 20 paintings attributed to him. By then, though, the painting's origin had been obscured due to overpainting and it was credited to da Vinci's follower Bernardino Luini.
It had sold for a mere 45 British pounds in 1958, when the painting was thought to have been a copy, and was lost until it resurfaced at a regional auction in 2005. Bouvier, in turn, sold it to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev for $127.5 million in 2014.
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