Saudi Crown Prince splashed $450 mn on Jesus painting

Middle East Monitor | – –

Mystery over the secret buyer of a record $450.3 million painting was solved after it was discovered that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman had used a proxy to get hold of one of the prized assets in the arts world.

The power hungry de-facto ruler of the Kingdom leading an anti-corruption charge against oppositions and prominent business figures splashed an eye watering half billion dollars on Leonardo da Vinci’s depiction of Jesus Christ.

While the purchase has raised eyebrows amongst many Muslims – who generally disapprove of depictions of prophets- Bin Salman’s decision to purchase the most expansive painting in the world has raised questions over his anti-corruption charge.

Bin Salman’s motives have previously come into question after it was discovered that the young prince had extravagantly decided to buy a half a billion dollar 440-foot yacht from a Russian vodka titan on an impulse.

Suspicions over the mystery buyer were raised after a Saudi Prince, unknown to the arts world, purchased the painting at Christie’s auction house. Officials at Christies established the identity of the proxy buyer as Prince Bader, who is part of the distant branch of the Saudi royal family and who is said to be a business partner of Bin Salman.

Bader’s interest in the painting raised eyebrows which prompted Christie’s officials to inquiry about his source of funds for the lucrative purchase. Investigations carried out by the Wall Street Journal, US government intelligence and Saudi art world figures confirmed that the buyer of the $450 million painting was in fact Bin Salman.

It’s reported that US intelligence was closely tracking the activities of Bader which led them to the conclusion that he was acting as a proxy for Bin Salman. “It is a fact that this deal was done via a proxy,” said a figure from the art world.

This work by Middle East Monitor is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


Related video added by Juan Cole:

AFP: “Da Vinci painting sells for $450mn in NY: Christie’s”

7 Responses

  1. If MBS bought the painting, I don’t really doubt that he did, but why will it be displayed in Abu Dhabi?

  2. Can this be interpreted as MbS hedging his personal fortune (every penny of which rightfully belongs to the country’s people) against the dollar? No need to choose now – Euro, Yen, Swiss Franc. Just sell it in the ‘hot’ currency at the appropriate time.

  3. In Islam, as in Judaism and the iconoclastic period in Christianity, graven images (statutes) and other figurative representations (“suar”) are forbidden or strongly disliked because of the danger that they will become objects of worship. However, there have been periods in Islam when drawings of scenes depicting the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and other prophets and angels (Jesus, David, Gabriel, etc. (pbut)) were common. However, in those images, the faces of the prophets and angels were usually either veiled or blank.

    The Da Vinci painting is called “Savator mundi” (saviour of the world) and will be displayed in the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi in the UAE.

    For Muslims, it is an article of faith that Jesus (pbuh) will return. He will usher in an era of peace and harmony. He will re-unite all the followers of the “celestial religions” (Jews, Christians and Muslims) and prepare them for the Day of Judgment when the pious ones will receive God’s reward (salvation) and the impious, his punishment (damnation).

    اَللّٰهُ أَعْلَم‏

  4. Bought a $450M painting? In NY, don’t worry about the tax

    By Karen Matthews
    Associated Press writer
    NEW YORK — New York collects sales tax on even the smallest items, but it probably won’t collect a cent on a nearly half-billion dollar painting by Leonardo da Vinci.
    link to

  5. Better that MBS spends his ill-gotten gains on art than armaments and munitions to further illegally bomb Yemen to the point of humanitarian catastrophe.

  6. From an artistic standpoint, there are something like only 19 DaVinci oil paintings known for sure and several more which might be his. So, this is probably a good investment and likely to go up in value.

    So, a major painting by DaVinci

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