Saudi Arabia's power-hungry crown prince sent a proxy to buy a $450 million Leonardo da Vinci painting


Mohammed bin Salman
Prince
Mohammed bin Salman waits for Gulf Arab leaders ahead of the
opening of Gulf Cooperation Council, as known as GCC summit, in
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on May 14, 2012.

AP Photo/Hassan Ammar

  • Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is behind the
    purchase of most expensive painting ever sold at
    auction.
  • A Leonardo da Vinci painting of Jesus Christ sold for
    $450 million.
  • Crown Prince Mohammed reportedly used another Saudi
    prince as a proxy for the purchase.

Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is
reportedly behind the purchase of the most expensive painting
ever sold at auction,
according to The Wall Street Journal
.

US government intelligence sources and a Saudi art-world figure
all confirmed to The Journal that Crown Prince Mohammed was the
buyer of a $450 million Leonardo da Vinci painting of Jesus
Christ.

Crown Prince Mohammed is
widely seen to be the muscle behind
the recent
anti-corruption purge, as he
consolidates power
in a way Saudi Arabia hasn’t seen in
decades. Many of Saudi Arabia’s richest and most powerful people
were arrested and jailed last month.

Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud

was identified as the mystery buyer
in a New York Times
report published Wednesday, but is now reported to be a proxy for
the crown prince. US intelligence reports have been closely
tracking Prince Mohammed’s activities, according to The Journal,
and identified him as the painting’s buyer.

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.

Here is the painting, which will be featured at the Louvre Abu
Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates:

Prince Bader, part of a distant branch of the wealthy royal
family, is reportedly friends and business partners with Crown
Prince Mohammed.

The Saudi art-world figure told The Journal that Prince Bader “is
a proxy” for Prince Mohammed.

“It is a fact that this deal was done via a proxy,” the person
said.

David Choi contributed reporting to this article.

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