File this under stories too good to check. Update: And Christie’s has officially poured cold water on it, calling the story “pure fantasy” (adding that no bidder can directly or indirectly bid against himself in a sale.)
Once the information came out that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was behind the $450m purchase of Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi at Christie’s last Fall, the immediate question running through the art world was, “who was the underbidder?”
The Daily Mail now claims it was the UAE’s ruler, Mohammed bin Zayed on the other side. Each Gulf potentate had sent a proxy to the auction with instructions not to lose out to their rivals in Qatar whom both assumed would be the other bidder:
‘The bidding started to get high, and each of them thought they were bidding against the Qataris, and didn’t want them to get it,’ said one source close to the Emirati leader.
‘So they gave their proxies instructions, saying ‘you can go as high as you want, just make sure you get it’.
‘It got to $450 million and the Emiratis gave up. Then s**t hit the fan when the record came out.
‘MBZ [Mohammed Bin Zayed] told Salman: “That was us bidding for it, why didn’t you tell me?”‘
Two Arab princes in $450m bidding war for Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi | (Daily Mail Online)