November 14, 2018

Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Is True Buyer of Da Vinci, WSJ Reports

08 December 2017, 03:50 | Regina Holmes

Prince Mohammed bin Salman. PTI file

Mohammed bin Salman wins TIME’s Person of the Year 2017 online reader poll

A Saudi prince has emerged as the buyer of the record-breaking $450 million (£341m) Da Vinci painting. The painting, one of fewer than 20 surviving by the Renaissance Master, sold for $450m at Christie's in NY on 15 November. Still, its most recent owner remained unknown until this week-and, it turns out, completely unknown to Christie's until the day before the auction. This is thought to be a sign of the oil-rich emirate's global cultural ambitions. Prince Bader did not respond to a detailed request for comment. Aniconism, forbids the depiction of graven images and states that they should destroyed. Muslims may not see Jesus as the savior, but he is still considered a prophet. It had been speculated, however, that the buyer might have hailed from the Middle East, particularly following posts on social media earlier today announcing that the painting was making its way to the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Over 600 objects and paintings have been loaned to the museum.

He also seems to move closely in the orbit of his contemporary, Crown Prince Mohammed...

"The prince maintained such a low-key figure that the members of the auction house Christie had a tough time establishing his identity and financial means", IBT said.

It then disappeared from view until 1900, when it resurfaced and was acquired by a British collector. By this time, its authorship by Leonardo, origins and illustrious royal history had been forgotten, and Christ's face and hair were overpainted.

The painting, which Sotheby's sold for a mere £45 less than 100 years ago, has gone through quite the journey since it was first created around the year 1500, falling into the possession of everyone from King Charles I to a Russian fertilizer salesman with connections to Donald Trump. It disappeared once again for almost 50 years, emerging in 2005 when it was purchased from an American estate at a small regional auction house.

The ethereal portrait invites comparisons to Da Vinci's most famous work, Mona Lisa.

Da Vinci died in 1519 and there are fewer than 20 of his paintings in existence. He sued the vendor who brokered the deal for overcharging him, and now he has just sold it for $450.3 million.

The purchase of Salvator Mundi, or Saviour of the World, was shrouded in mystery and was the talk of the art world.

An employee poses with Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi" on display at Christie's auction rooms in London.

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