Recently, a rediscovered Leonardo da Vinci painting became the most expensive work of art ever sold. The painting sold at Christie’s auction house for a final price of $450.3 million.
The painting was a portrait of Jesus Christ titled “Salvator Mundi,” or “Savior of the World.” While the painting was expecting to sell for around $100 million, bids continued rising and shattered world records.
The painting was completed around 1500 and is the last painting that “deemed by [da Vinci] in private hands.” After the news came out about the price the painting sold for, curious minds began wondering who would spend so much money for it.
Now, it has been revealed that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was the buyer behind the painting. According to Bloomberg, the royal used a distant relative as a “proxy” to buy the painting.
The official buyer in the acquisition was Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud. However, it was reportedly on behalf of the crowned prince.
Still, the buy has many people confused, especially as the actual buyer, Prince Bader, is not known for being an art collector or for having great wealth.
Additionally, the NY Times reported that the painting is considered a “controversial and decidedly un-Islamic portrait of Christ at a time when most members of the Saudi elite, including some of the royal family, are cowering under a sweeping crackdown against corruption and self-enrichment.”
According to Christie’s auction house and a recent tweet by the United Arab Emirates, the painting will be going to the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
The spokesperson for Christie’s denied a comment by the NY Times, and so did the crowned prince. No direct answer has been given about why Saudi royalty would purchase such an expensive painting, especially with the content being so controversial.
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