Crown prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman has been revealed as the true buyer of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi,” the New York Times reveals.
The painting, sold for a record breaking $450.3 million, was made by da Vinci back in the 1500s and depicts Jesus in a Renaissance dress with his fingers on his right hand crossed.
New York Times revealed that the painting was paid for through an agent, Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, and many believe that Prince bin Salman, friends with Prince Bader, funded the bid.
The purchase was the highest in the world, beating the previous record for an art sale at auction which was held by a painting by Picasso bought for $179.4 million.
The purchase by the Saudi prince is ironic for two reasons: he recently ordered the arrest of several of the kingdom’s richest people for charges on corruption, holding them at the Ritz-Carlton as there are no prisons for the royal family.
Also, the painting depicts Jesus as the “savior of the world and master of the cosmos,” (with his right hand raised in benediction and his left holding a transparent rock crystal orb), a belief that contradicts with Islam’s view of Jesus being a prophet.
The Art Newspaper also revealed that Salvator Mundi will be loaned to the newly-opened Louvre in Abu-Dhabi.
The crowned princes of Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi are close, and the loan is seen as a deal that will strengthen their ties.
Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images/The Art Newspaper