'Salvator Mundi' Buyer Revealed: Little Known Saudi Prince

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Louvre Abu Dhabi is a joint project between the French government and the city of Abu Dhabi, to which Saudi's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is a close ally.

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.

Auction house Christie's has also steadfastly declined to identify the buyer, whose purchase in NY for $450.3 million stunned the art world.

Prince Bader has no history as a major art collector but is a friend and associate of Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Times said. The painting was sold November 15 for $450 million.

The nature of the painting - a rendition of Christ - and the timing of the purchase - less than two weeks after the corruption purge - calls into question whether the crown prince has been selectively targeting people in the crackdown, The Times reported.

Badar was reportedly so unknown to Christie's - the auction house in New York City that sold the painting - that the officials at the art house were still trying to confirm the prince's identity even after he made a $100 million deposit to qualify for the auction.

But Prince Mohammed, whom the Times describes as King Salman's favored son and key adviser, has himself been criticized for his spending habits, including impulsively spending half a billion dollars on a yacht past year while at the same time slashing capital spending by 71 percent.

Although Prince Badar did not respond to The Times' detailed request for comment, the Louvre in Abu Dhabi - a museum in the United Arab Emirates - tweeted Wednesday that the "Salvator Mundi" was "coming to Louvre Abu Dhabi", The Times said. One such position was linked closely to the family.

He was the chairman (appointed by Prince Mohammed) of Saudi Research and Marketing Group, the publisher of Arab newspaper Al Share Al Awsat and other publications.

The website also added Prince Bader was one of the "founding members" of a large recycling business that presently has the world's largest waste management and recycling facility. The report stated the price of the painting went up to $400 million, which ended the auction with Prince Bader winning the bid.

The painting is now heading to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opened to much hype last month, it was announced Wednesday.

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