'Salvator Mundi' Buyer Revealed: Little Known Saudi Prince


'Salvator Mundi' Buyer Revealed: Little Known Saudi Prince

The new branch of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi will exhibit Leonardo da Vinci's portrait of Christ, "Salvator Mundi", which at $450.3 million became the most expensive painting ever sold at a NY auction last month.

On Wednesday, the newly opened Louvre in Abu Dhabi museum in the United Arab Emirates tweeted an announcement that the painting is "coming".

Prince Bader, a friend of Saudi Arabia's young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is not known as a major art collector, but has extensive dealings in the real estate, telecommunications, and recycling industries in Saudi Arabia, according to his profile on the website of the company Energy Holdings International, on whose board of directors he once served.

The New York Times report said Prince Bader took part in the auction of the painting through telephone on November 15.

The first museum to bear the Louvre name outside France has been billed as "the first universal museum in the Arab world" in a sign of the oil-rich emirate's global ambitions. Buyers from the Middle East and Asia have been snapping up masterpieces to fill regional museums in China and the Middle East.

The work was sold to the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev who purchased the da Vinci painting for $127.5 million in 2013.

The painting, dubbed Salvator Mundi or Savior of the World, depicts Jesus Christ.

Auction house Christie's demanded he provide a $100 million deposit just to be confirmed as a bidder, and then sit through a rigorous process where Christie's accountants conducted due diligence on his wealth.

Prince Bader was also made the chairman of the Saudi Research and Marketing Group, which is controlled by the Salman branch of the royal family.

"We are delighted that the work will again be on public view", a Christie's spokesperson said of the record-setting painting.

The Times reported the "Salvator Mundi" sale doubled the price of the previous record-holder, Pablo Picasso's "The Women of Algiers", which sold for $179.4 million in 2015 in NY.

It is one of fewer than 20 paintings by the Renaissance master known to exist and the only one in private hands. The report stated the price of the painting went up to $400 million, which ended the auction with Prince Bader winning the bid. It re-emerged in the 1950s, but was written off as a copy and sold for £45 or $60, according to CNN.