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Saudi Prince is mystery Da Vinci buyer

SalvatorMundi

People take pictures of the painting 'Salvator Mundi' believed to be by Leonardo da Vinci (circa 1500) during a public preview before an auctioning of the painting at Christie's auction house in New York, New York, USA, 15 November 2017. Media reports on 07 December 2017 state that the painting of Christ, sold in New York for a record 450 million US dollars, is heading to the Louvre Abu Dhabi according to the Abu Dhabi museum. Image: EPA/JUSTIN LANE

The mysterious buyer who last month acquired the Leonardo da Vinci painting "Salvator Mundi" for $450 million ($A590 million) is a Saudi prince, The New York Times reports.

The painting, a representation of Jesus Christ, was bid to the highest auction price ever achieved to date for a work of art. According to Christie's auction house, which handled the sale, it is the only known Da Vinci piece remaining in private hands.

According to The New York Times, the buyer was Saudi Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, according to documents to which the paper obtained access.

In an article datelined London, the daily said that Bader is a "little known" prince who is part of a "remote branch" of the Saudi royal family and without any known experience as a major art collector.

As usually occurs in these situations, Christie's has not revealed the name of the buyer. The Saudi prince in question did not respond to attempts by The Times to contact him on the matter, the daily reported.

The report emerged the same day that it was announced that "Salvator Mundi" will next be publicly displayed at the opening of a branch of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates

According to the paper, the prince's representatives did not reveal his interest in the painting until the day before the auction, which was held in New York on November 15.

In order to participate in the bidding, the prince put $US100 million on deposit with the auction house, although Christie's subsequently asked for additional information, including the origin of the money he was putting up, with the prince stating simply that it came from "real estate," The Times reported.

According to the paper, Prince Bader, who is involved in several businesses in his homeland, is a close friend of the heir to the Saudi throne, Mohammad bin Salman, who is currently heading an extensive anti-corruption drive in Saudi Arabia. The pair of princes reportedly got to know each other while attending King Saud University in Riyadh.

© EFE 2017

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