Saudi Prince MBS Unknowingly Entered Into A Bidding War With An Ally And Ended Up Paying An Eye-Watering $450 Million

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By Andrew Fungai

According to the Wall Street Journal, Saudi prince Badr bin Abdullah purchased the painting by acting in the name of the kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Riyadh did neither confirm nor deny the report.

When Arab princes get their hands on something, they convert it into gold. Something similar happened with a sought-after painting, and not just any picture: Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi,’ which sold at auction in 2017 for an eye-watering $450.3 million.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi,’.PHOTO/CREDIT

Mohammed Bin Salman, the country’s crown prince, was given the precious painting by Saudi Prince Bader Bin Abdullah.

Saudi Prince and his competitors at the auction

Mohammed Bin Zayed, the ruler of the United Arab Emirates, also took part in Christie’s New York auction. Both royals shared the same goal of keeping the expensive artwork away from their bitter adversaries, the ruling family of Qatar.

UAE’s President Mohammed Bin Zayed left and Saudi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.PHOTO/CREDIT

They were unaware that the tug-of-war was between the UAE and Saudi Arabia, not the Qatari royal family. The Arab rulers went all out for fear of losing the auction to the renowned art connoisseurs of the Qatari royal family.

One insider close to the Emirati leader claimed, “The bidding started to go high and each of them thought they were bidding against the Qataris and didn’t want them to acquire it.”

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‘ They then gave their proxies instructions, telling them to go as high as they wanted as long as they remembered to acquire it. Of course, the painting’s price skyrocketed during the auction to a staggering $450 million, and the Emiratis eventually gave up.

Confusion at the art paintings auction

Two people were grinning widely after the revelation. First, the Russian millionaire had spent $127.5 million on the artwork in 2013 and was now $322.8 million richer. Additionally, it was purportedly rejected by the Qatari royals a year prior because it was too Christian for their collection.

At the time, the Qatari royals were offered $80 million for Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi.” A conflict of egos raised the value of Da Vinci’s artwork, allowing a wealthy Russian to become even wealthier. Who would have guessed that the art known as pauper’s painting, which sold for $10,000 at Sotheby’s in 2005, would sell for nearly $500 million only twelve years later?

MBS mega yacht Serene.PHOTO/CREDIT

Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman won the $450 million masterpiece, but the extravagant purchase irritated critics of his administration during the country’s poor economy. Many people believe the crown prince made a deal with his Emirati counterpart to exchange the painting for a superyacht. The picture, however, is said to be on the cabin wall of Mohammed bin Salman’s $400 million superyacht Serene.

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