The new owner of Salvator Mundi, the Leonardo da Vinci painting that broke auction house records when it was sold for $450 million last month, has been revealed as the Saudi Arabian prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud.
Bader bin Abdullah was identified in documents reviewed by the New York Times as the buyer of the painting, which was sold at Christie’s in New York on Nov. 15. The prince is not a previously known art collector, the Times reports, and the sources of his wealth are not publicly known, but he is a close associate of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose far-reaching anti-corruption purge last month cleared the way to the Saudi throne.
On Wednesday, the newly opened Louvre in Abu Dhabi museum in the United Arab Emirates tweeted an announcement that the painting is “coming”.
Salvator Mundi has a controversial history, with at least one expert doubting that it is the work of Renaissance master da Vinci. It once belonged to King Charles I of England and disappeared for centuries before resurfacing in 1958, having undergone heavy repainting. It was sold for just thousands in 2005 but was bought again in 2013 for $127.5 million by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. Christie’s called the painting’s reemergence “the greatest artistic rediscovery of the 21st century.”
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