The New York Times’s man in the mideast, David Kirkpatrick, has seen documents that identify Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud as the buyer of the $450m Leonardo da Vinci.
The news adds another layer of intrigue to the story:
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. Prince Bader splurged on this controversial and decidedly un-Islamic portrait of Christ at a time when most of the Saudi Arabian elite, including members of the royal family, are cowering under a sweeping crackdown against corruption and self-enrichment. As it happens, Prince Bader is a friend and associate of the leader of the purge: the country’s 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.
The Times also explains why we saw the Louvre Abu Dhabi mysteriously post about the painting on Instagram:
Prince Badar did not respond to a detailed request for comment. But as The Times was pressing for a response on Wednesday, the newly opened branch of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, tweeted that the painting “is coming to Louvre Abu Dhabi.” The Saudi crown prince is a close ally of his counterpart in Abu Dhabi.
The Mysterious Buyer of the $450 Million da Vinci Painting? A Saudi Prince (The New York Times)