Saudi prince bought record-breaking $450 million Da Vinci painting

Saudi prince bought record-breaking $450 million Da Vinci painting

It's been reported that Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud was the mystery bidder behind the auction sale of the 500-year-old masterpiece. As he and King Salman have also suspiciously appointed Prince Bader to head up the Saudi Research and Marketing Group and another government commission, all this only seems to make Prince Bader's sources of income even murkier-and particularly his motivations in making such a public display of his mysterious wealth on an item that may cause some cultural conflicts in his country.

This particular prince reportedly did not have a history of collecting art and was a friend of Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

It made the announcement via Twitter - but did not say if it had bought the painting at the NY auction last month.

Prince Bader is part of the Farhan branch of the royal family, which traces its lineage to an 18th-century Saudi ruler, not to King Abdulaziz ibn Saud, the founder of the modern-day kingdom. It came just two weeks after Crown Prince Mohammed launched an anti-corruption campaign, rounding up more than 200 Saudi businessmen, ministers and princes. Many of Saudi Arabia's richest and most powerful people were arrested and jailed last month.

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But the work will give Riyadh bragging rights in a regional tug-of-war for some of the most expensive art works in the world.

The identity of the buyer became something of a parlor game.

The painting is now heading to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opened to much hype last month, it was announced Wednesday. The prince's response was that he made his money in real estate, and that he was just one of some 5,000 Saudi princes. In a Tweet yesterday, the museum confirmed that it's getting the painting. Saudi Arabia adheres to a strict form of Islam which shuns visual portrayals of religious figures.

He is paying for the iconic painting in six installments, with at least five of them priced at more than $58million, the Times reported. Some art critics say it lacks the vitality of da Vinci's work, and that it has been painted and scrubbed a number of times. Russian billionaire Dmitry E. Rybolovlev was the previous owner, who paid $127.5 million in 2013.

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