The identity of a mystery buyer who spent a stunning $450,312,500 on a painting of Jesus Christ last month has finally been revealed — and it’s sparking quite a bit of intrigue.
The buyer of the Leonardo da Vinci work is a 32-year-old Saudi prince named Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud. Not only is he not known to be an art collector, but he isn’t widely known for his wealth either, The New York Times reported.
Still, Bader clearly had the means to dole out $450.3 million at the auction for the painting, titled, “Salvator Mundi” — the most expensive piece of art ever sold at auction.
The Times has a lengthy piece about Prince Bader and his purchase, but here are some of the most intriguing highlights:
For Prince Bader, paying such an unprecedented sum for a painting of Christ also risked offending the religious sensibilities of his Muslim countrymen. Muslims teach that Jesus was not the savior but a prophet. And most Muslims — especially the clerics of Saudi Arabia — consider the artistic depiction of any of the prophets to be a form of sacrilege.
Prince Bader comes from a lesser branch of the royal family, the Farhan, who are descended from a brother of an 18th-century Saudi ruler. They do not trace their lineage to the founder of the modern kingdom, King Abdulaziz ibn Saud. But Prince Bader is a contemporary of Prince Mohammed. They attended King Saud University in Riyadh around the same time, if not together. And after King Salman, now 81, took the throne in 2015 and appointed Prince Mohammed to run much of the government, he named Prince Bader to high-profile positions, including one closely linked to the family.
As Faithwire previously reported, “Salvator Mundi,” has been the focal point of discussions in art circles in recent years, especially considering that so few of da Vinci’s paintings are still in existence.
“This stunning price reflects the extreme rarity of paintings by Leonardo da Vinci,” read a statement last month from Christie’s auction house. “There are fewer than 20 in existence acknowledged as being from the artist’s own hand, and all apart from Salvator Mundi are in museum collections.”