Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had actually purchased the record-breaking $450.3 million da Vinci painting through a proxy from an auction held at Christie's in New York in November, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Citing US intelligence source and a Saudi art-world figure familiar with the purchase, the New York-based newspaper reported that Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, a lesser-known figure and a distant relative of the crown prince, bought the 'Salvator Mundi,' under his name to conceal the name of the true owner.
Also Read- Da Vinci painting sells for $450m in auction record
The revelation came at a time when 32-year-old Saudi leader has been working to portray himself as a reformer determined to root out corruption in the oil-rich kingdom.
For several weeks, dozens of elites and even some royal family members have been imprisoned at hotels in the country amid the Saudi crown prince's ostensible crusade against the perceived self-enrichment in the conservative kingdom.
The painting depicts Christ in Renaissance clothing holding a glass orb, and art buffs have pointed out that the object appears completely see-through, when in reality the light passing through it should appear distorted.
Prince Bader had not been targeted in the crackdown. He is not well-known as an art collector and comes from a remote branch of the royal family. He is also the Chairman of the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), which just inked a deal to launch 'Bloomberg Al Arabiya' network back in September, ArabNews.com reported.
Crown Prince Salman is reportedly paying for the painting in six installments with at least five of them priced at more than $58 million.
On Wednesday, it was announced on Twitter in Arabic, English and French that the art work was heading to the Louvre in Abu Dhabi.
'Da Vinci's Salvator Mundi is coming to #LouvreAbuDhabi,' the museum wrote on Twitter.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first museum to bear the Louvre name outside France, has been billed as 'the first universal museum in the Arab world' in a sign of the oil-rich emirate's global ambitions.
Painted in oil on a wooden board measuring 18 by 26 inches, 'Salvator Mundi' shows its subject gazing dreamily at the viewer, his right hand raised in benediction, while his left clutches a crystal orb.
The sale more than doubled the previous record of $179.4 million paid for Pablo Picasso's 'The Women of Algiers (Version O)' in 2015, also in New York.