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The Biggest Sucker – Saudi Crown Prince’s $450 Million “Leonardo da Vinci” Painting Most Likely Fake



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Feb 18 2019
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On December 2017, the world was left speechless after Leonardo da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” – dating back to 1500 – was sold to a mysterious buyer who splashed a mind-boggling US$450.3 million. The “Salvator Mundi,” which means “Savior of the World”, depicts Christ as a Renaissance man dressed in flowing blue robes.

 

The mysterious wealthy buyer was exposed as none other than Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the 32-year-old son of King Salman who has been named as the successor to the throne of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Exactly why the King-in-waiting was so eager to get a piece of a painting of the Jesus Christ is beyond comprehension.

 

The 26-inch-tall painting, which was created at around the same time as the “Mona Lisa”, was also called the “Male Mona Lisa” by some people. Experts believe da-Vinci painted it around 1500 when he was 48 years old. But what makes Salvator Mundi so valuable is that the painting has vanished for centuries, before reappears again.

Leonardo da Vinci painting - Salvator Mundi - Auction

It is believed that the Salvator Mundi (“Saviour of the World”) was originally commissioned by Louis XII of France. It was also once in the collection of Charles I of England. The artwork subsequently disappeared in the late 18th century. When re-emerged at auction in 1958, it was dismissed as a copy and sold for just £45 ($60; RM248).

 

At £45 ($60; RM248), that would translate to about £1,600 ($2,157; RM8,815) today. A group of art dealers later bought it at an estate sale for less than US$10,000 in 2005. But that consortium of art dealers suspected they might have landed on something special, therefore, commissioned New York art expert Robert Simon to painstakingly clean the work over a 5-year time period.

 

After being restored and authenticated, the masterpiece, the only Leonardo in private hands, was sold to Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev for a whopping US$127.5 million. Now, it has fallen into the hands of 33-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, after his proxy – Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed – bought it on behalf of him.

Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman vs Qatari Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani

However, the reason why the Saudi Crown Prince had splashed close to half a billion US dollars for a piece of art he probably doesn’t know how to appreciate was equally amazing. Within art circles, the Saudi royal family isn’t known to be art collectors. He did it for the “bragging rights” – competing with rival Qatari Emir’s daughter to show who is richer.

 

A former adviser to the Qataris reportedly claimed that Sotheby’s offered the family a chance to buy the da-Vinci 8 years ago for around US$80 million, but the family turned the house down. The Saudi Crown Prince was said to deliberately bid the Salvator Mundi to a ridiculous price just so it’s more expensive than what the Qatari princess possessed.

 

But the crown prince, known for his impulsive, immature and ruthless nature, could have had made the biggest fool of himself, after he bought the “Male Mona Lisa” painting. The sucker may have had bought a “fake” painting after all. The Salvator Mundi was thought to be painted by Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci, but doubts have been cast over the painting’s authenticity.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - Smiling 2

Months after the Louvre in Abu Dhabi suddenly cancelled its planned unveiling, the painting is now facing an apparent snub from the Louvre in Paris, which is understood to have cancelled plans to display it in its major Leonardo exhibition. Two days ago, art historian Jacques Franck told the Sunday Telegraph that senior politicians and Louvre staff “know that the Salvator Mundi isn’t a Leonardo”.

 

Apparently, Mr. Franck has reportedly written to French President Emmanuel Macron to warn him against inaugurating the Louvre’s Leonardo exhibition. Last August, Matthew Landrus, a research fellow at Oxford University’s Wolfson College, claimed the artwork was actually painted by da Vinci’s assistant Bernardino Luini.

 

Yes, The Renaissance master was thought to have painted fewer than 20 works, including “The Last Supper”, but the “Salvator Mundi” appears to be not one of them. What this means is for splashing US$450 million for the painting, the Saudi Crown Prince becomes the biggest fool as Bernardino Luini work generally sells for less than £1 million (US$1.3 million; RM5.26 million).

Leonardo da Vinci - Black White Painting

 

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