The art world was left stumped last month when a mystery bidder agreed to pay more than $450m for Leonardo da Vinci’s rediscovered Salvator Mundi painting.
The sale beat the record sale price for artwork by more than $150m. It left art dealers and collectors scratching their heads as to who had agreed to purchase the piece for well above its estimated sale price.
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Christie’s, the auction house behind the record-breaking sale, hasn’t officially revealed the buyer. However, The New York Times claims to have seen documents relating to the sale.
If these documents are to be believed, Saudi prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud is the man with the money that has shaken up the Old Masters market, but who is Salvator Mundi’s mystery buyer?
Who is Saudi Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud?
While many of Saudi Arabia’s royals sat locked away in a makeshift prison at Riyadh’s Ritz Carlton hotel as part of the nation’s anti-corruption purge, Prince Bader was reportedly masterminding the $450m purchase of Da Vinci’s famous painting.
The revelation has raised some eyebrows. Even those at Christie’s were reportedly concerned, as they struggled to establish his identity. Given the situation in Saudi Arabia, the auction house was concerned about the source of his wealth and reasons for purchasing. And rightly so, given that he has no history in the art world.
However, as a close friend of Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and the man behind the crackdown, it seems that Prince Bader has little to worry about.
Until now, the royal was relatively unknown outside of the Middle East. His family are descended from an 18th century king and have no immediate connection to the current ruling line.
He is an active public affairs writer, having previously worked with some of the biggest news publications in the Arab world. He is the current chairman of the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), a leading publishing company in the Middle East. The company is responsible for publications such as the popular Al Sharq Al Awsat newspaper.
However, according to The New York Times’ documents, Prince Bader claims to have made his fortune through real estate.
Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud net worth: how much is Prince Bader worth?
Nobody knows just how much Prince Bader is worth. The distant prince doesn’t quite flash the cash as much as some of his fellow royals. However, the purchase of Salvator Mundi suggests that he is no worse off.
The prince was able to offer up a $100m deposit and agree to a $400m purchase, plus $50m in buyer fees, with ease and there is likely plenty more where that came from.
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It is unclear at this time whether Prince Bader will continue to invest his resources in the art world.
What now for Salvator Mundi?
Salvator Mundi may or may not now belong to Saudi prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud. However, it will be heading to the Middle East regardless of the true identity of its buyer.
The newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi took to social media platform Instagram to reveal that Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi will be going on display. The painting will be taking centre stage at the art museum, much like Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in Paris.
The Abu Dhabi Louvre has given no date for Salvator Mundi’s arrival in Abu Dhabi. However, the museum has promised further updates soon.