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Saudi Crown Prince buys Jesus portrait for record breaking $450.3m

Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is reported to be behind the the purchase of the portrait of Jesus “Salvator Mundi” by Leonardo da Vinci’ for record breaking $450.3m. American and Arab officials familiar with the arrangement said Thursday.

New York Times learned that the purchase was executed in the name of Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed who is a close confidant of the crown Prince and it is believed that the Crown Prince must have funded the purchase.

However, Prince Bader in a statement Thursday in a Saudi newspaper  owned by a company he leads said he had “read with great surprise the report published about me in The New York Times newspaper and the strange and inaccurate information it contained.” He did not mention the painting in his statement.

According to New York Times an official at the Saudi Embassy in Washington declined to comment on Thursday.

Islam forbids any art work depicting any  prophet though Islam recognises Jesus as a Prophet but does not recognise him as a saviour.  Public acknowledgement of the purchase by the Crown Prince may offend the sensibility of the conservative Muslim kingdom.

Christie the auction house that handled the sale of the renaissance masterpiece did not disclose the buyer. However, Sales document reviewed by New York Times stated Badre as the buyer.

The “Salvator Mundi”is being expected in Abu Dhabi in the newly opened branch of the Louvre museum.

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