NEW YORK – Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was the real buyer of a Leonardo Da Vinci painting that fetched a record $450.3 million at an auction last month in the United States, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
That information comes a day after The New York Times said the buyer of the artwork at the Nov. 15 auction was another Saudi prince, Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed.
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.
The 500-year-old “Salvator Mundi,” a portrait of Jesus Christ that was regarded as the only Da Vinci painting in private hands, was sold by Christie’s on Nov. 15 in New York for $450.3 million, the most ever paid at auction for an artwork.
The art-world figure cited by the Journal said Prince Bader – a distant relative of the 32-year-old heir to the Saudi throne, who is known by the initials MBS – was the nominal buyer but in fact served as a proxy.
“It is a fact that this deal was done via a proxy,” that source said.
Bader has collaborated with MBS on business ventures and charitable causes in the past, the Journal said.
The painting will be displayed at the recently opened Louvre Abu Dhabi, that museum tweeted on Wednesday, without giving a timeframe.