The art world was surprised when a mystery buyer paid a whopping $450.3 million for an original Leonardo da Vinci painting ‘Salvator Mundi’ during an auction last month.
It was a record purchase, beating the previous record of $179.4 million paid for Picasso’s ‘Women of Algiers’.
Coming back to the new record, the man who purchased the Salvator Mundi has been revealed and the name many has left many confused. Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, a somewhat unknown Saudi royal from an obscure branch of the royal family and no known interest in art collecting, made the record-breaking purchase, according to the New York Times.
He is considered as a close friend of Crown Prince MBS and has become prominent since the rise of his friend. According to the documents, the fortune comes from ‘real estate’.
Prince Bader is part of the Farhan branch of the royal family, which traces its lineage to an 18th-century Saudi ruler, not to King Abdulaziz ibn Saud, the founder of the modern-day kingdom.
He currently serves as the chairman of Saudi Research and Marketing Group, which was traditionally controlled directly by the crown prince’s family.
Prince Bader is also in charge of governing a commission overseeing the development of Al Ola, containing important archaeological site.
Interestingly, The Louvre in Abu Shabi, which opened grandly tweeted that the painting is ‘coming’ to the museum.
Although Prince Bader’s connections to Abu Dhabi are unclear, Prince Mohammed is known to be very close to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
The exact reason for the purchase is yet to be known. But for the time being, this recent purchase shows that new Khaleeji art museums and private art buyers are taking their collections very seriously, willing to shell out unprecedented sums to enhance their profile.