How the Mysterious Da Vinci Buyer Is Related to Saudi's Crown Prince

RIYADH SAUDI ARABIA- NOVEMBER 11  King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin A

Bandar Algaloud Saudi Royal Council Handout Anadolu Agency Getty Images

It had sold for a mere 45 British pounds in 1958, when the painting was thought to have been a copy, and was lost until it resurfaced at a regional auction in 2005. "The image of the crown prince spending that much money to buy a painting when he's supposed to be leading an anticorruption drive is staggering", an expert on Saudi Arabia and former Central Intelligence Agency officer told the WSJ.

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.

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He may be busy leading a crackdown on the alleged ill-gotten gains of his political rivals, but Saudi Arabia's Mohammed Bin Salman looks like he still has time for the finer things in life.

But The Journal reported that Bader was the nominal buyer, and Crown Prince Salman was identified in USA intelligence reports as the true owner. Many of Saudi Arabia's richest and most powerful people were arrested and jailed last month.

Bader is an unknown figure in the art collection circle. Even then, Christie's lawyers remained suspicious, persisting in asking him where he got the money and what his relationship was with the Saudi ruler, King Salman.

According to the Times, Bader comes from a minor branch of the Saudi royal family, the Farhan, which does not trace its lineage to the founder of the modern kingdom, Abdulaziz ibn Saud.

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Both attended Riyadh's King Saud University around the same time, if not together, the Times said, and Bader was appointed as chairman of the Saudi Research and Marketing Group soon after bin Salman's father became king.

He is a board member of Energy Holdings International, an energy company with business in Middle East, Asia and Americas.

In July, King Salman also named Bader governor of a newly formed commission, led by bin Salman, to develop the province of al-Ola as a tourist destination.

As for Prince Bader, when he's not palling around with Prince Mohammed, he also works on side projects like partnerships with those ranging from Verizon to Michael Bloomberg, as well as large program he founded to manage the country's recycling.

The identity of the new owner of Leonardo da Vinci's mysterious masterpiece, "Salvator Mundi", has finally been revealed: a Saudi Arabian prince.

The previous owner of Salvator Mundi was a Russian businessman, Dmitry Rybolovlev, who purchased it for $127 million in 2013.

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