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08 December 2017, 03:52 | Myron Mathis
Mysterious Saudi prince is reportedly the buyer of record-breaking $450 million Leonardo da Vinci painting
Prince Bader, in a statement published Thursday in a Saudi newspaper owned by a company he leads, said he had "read with great surprise the report published about me in The New York Times newspaper and the odd and inaccurate information it contained".
But the Journal, citing "US government intelligence and a Middle East art-world figure familiar with the purchase", said Bader acted as a proxy for the heir to the Saudi throne.
Saudi Arabia's crown prince is the true buyer of the Leonardo Da Vinci painting that sold last month for a record $450 million, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Journal reported that Bader was the nominal buyer, but said MBS was identified in USA intelligence reports as the true owner.
The revelation that Prince Bader is the purchaser, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times, links one of the most captivating mysteries of the art world with palace intrigues in Saudi Arabia that are shaking the region. The sale price more than doubled the previous record for an art sale at auction, $179.4 million for a Picasso. His statement did not mention the painting or address whether he had bought it.
Prince Mohammed comes from a more moderate side of Islam although much of the Sunni country practices a strict Wahhabi form of Islam.
Prince Bader, the named buyer, has no publicly known source of wealth that would enable him to make such an expensive purchase. He belongs to a remote branch of a royal family and he has never been known to be an art collector. The mass purge was in fact ordered by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who organized a series of midnight arrests that included 11 of his royal cousins-who happens to be one of Prince Bader's friends and associates.
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He was the chairman (appointed by Prince Mohammed) of Saudi Research and Marketing Group, the publisher of Arab newspaper Al Share Al Awsat and other publications.
But Prince Mohammed, whom the Times describes as King Salman's favored son and key adviser, has himself been criticized for his spending habits, including impulsively spending half a billion dollars on a yacht past year while at the same time slashing capital spending by 71 percent. But on Wednesday, Louvre Abu Dhabi (which opened in November) announced the upcoming arrival of the painting on twitter. Over 600 objects and paintings have been loaned to the museum. The winning bidder? Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud.
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