The mystery buyer of De Vinci’s portrait of Jesus Christ, ‘Salvator Mundi’ has been revealed to be a Saudi Arabia Prince, Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud.
According to the New York Times, Prince Bader is little-known Saudi prince from a remote branch of the royal family, with no history as a major art collector, and no publicly known source of great wealth.
Salvator Mundi (Saviour of the World), a painting by world-renowned artist, Leonardo de Vinci, was sold in New York for a record $450m (£341m) – making it the highest auction price for any work of art. The sale went beyond the expectation of just $100 million as it was initially stipended.
Recall the unidentified buyer was involved in a bidding contest, via telephone, that lasted nearly 20 minutes. Although a spokeswoman for Christie’s, the auction house that sold “Salvator Mundi,” said it did not comment on the identities of any buyers or sellers without their permission, documents reviewed by the NY newspaper has allegedly linked one of the most captivating mysteries of the art world with palace intrigues in Saudi Arabia that are shaking the region.
Such un-Islamic move, as it is described, has spark speculations over the motivation behind such expensive splash of cash. Considering the fact that the Arab country is currently under a corruption crackdown – which the Princes are supposedly no exception.
Also, if the report that the Arab Prince bought the painting holds true, it still seems strange since though Jesus is considered a Muslim prophet and precursor to Mohammed, the Islamic religion deem sacrilegious a depiction of any of the prophets in the Quran.
Also, It is generally known that the United Arab Emirate has opened the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum earlier this month – a building that reportedly cost £1bn over the past 10 years and holds 600 artworks permanently and 300 loaned from France. BBC reported that the museum pays Paris hundreds of millions of dollars for the loaned artworks, as well as for the use of the Louvre name and managerial advice.
Therefore, the motive remains unclear until the buyer decides to open up. As for the ‘Salvator Mundi,’ a work believed to have been painted around 1505, allegedly owned by Prince Bader who arranged to pay for it in instalments over six months with the last instalment of $58,385,416.65 due on May 14.