The mystery of who bought a Leonardo da Vinci painting for $450 million has been solved

The "Salvator Mundi" painting.
(Image credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

The art world was stunned last month when an unknown person bid a record $450.3 million for a Leonardo da Vinci painting of Christ called "Salvator Mundi," and now that the buyer's identity has been revealed, they're still surprised.

The painting is now owned by Saudi Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, The New York Times reports, and it will be on display at the new Louvre branch in Abu Dhabi. He is not known for being an art collector or incredibly wealthy, and documents viewed by the Times show that he was such a non-entity in the art scene that Christie's had to quickly figure out right before the auction if he was eligible to bid. Prince Bader is close to Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who recently had hundreds of the country's princes, businessmen, and government officials arrested, accusing them of having made billions illicitly.

In order to qualify for the auction, Prince Bader had to put down a $100 million deposit; when asked by lawyers for Christie's how he made his money, he told them in real estate, the Times reports. Bidding began at $100 million, and after two minutes, it was down to Prince Bader and another person. It took 19 minutes for bidding to come to an end, with the audience astounded by the final price of $450.3 million, and while Prince Bader had said he would pay it all off in a lump sum, it's been decided he'll make five monthly payments of $58,385,416.67 and one final payment May 14 for $58,385,416.65.

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.