'Mystery buyer of $450m Leonardo da Vinci painting' appointed as new culture minister of Saudi Arabia

06:09 PM | 2 Jun, 2018
'Mystery buyer of $450m Leonardo da Vinci painting' appointed as new culture minister of Saudi Arabia
RIYADH - King Salman bin Abdul Aziz has named a young prince, who is reportedly a mystery buyer of a $450 million Leonardo da Vinci painting of Jesus, as head of the newly established Culture Ministry.

The monarch on Saturday issued a number of royal decrees, naming Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al Saud, a close aide of his son and heir Mohammad Bin Salman.

Prince Bader has been identified as the buyer of the most expensive painting ever sold at auction by the New York Times last year.

According to a report by Wall Street Journal quoting U.S. government intelligence and a Saudi art-world figure familiar with the purchase, the 32-years-old aspiring Saudi King used Prince Bader as a proxy who bought the record-breaking da Vinci painting of Christ,  “Salvator Mundi,” during an auction at Christie's in New York City.

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Prince Bader and the crown prince attended King Saud University in Riyadh around the same time, according to the New York Times. In 2015, Prince Bader was designated as chairman of the Saudi Research and Marketing Group.

In another decree early on Saturday, the king replaced Sheikh Saleh bin Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Al Sheikh with Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Sheikh as head of the Islamic Affairs Ministry.

He previously served as head of Saudi Arabia’s morality policy, known as the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

Among other key changes, the king appointed Ahmed bin Sulaiman bin Abdulaziz Al-Rajhi as minister of labor. He is a well-known Saudi businessman.

In other decrees, King Salman renamed several natural reserves after deceased Saudi clerics and royal family members from the first Saudi state of the early 19th century. He renamed three other reserves after his late father, King Abdulaziz, himself, and his son, the crown prince.