The mystery buyer for the iconic painting titled "Salvator Mundi" that was sold last month at auction house Christie's in New York is Saudi royal Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, according to the New York Times.
Although Prince Badar did not respond to The Times' detailed request for comment, the Louvre in Abu Dhabi - a museum in the United Arab Emirates - tweeted Wednesday that the "Salvator Mundi" was "coming to Louvre Abu Dhabi", The Times said.
Prince Badar's purchase of the image of Christ comes at a time when elite Saudi's are highly concerned about an ongoing "purge" of influential national figures at the bequest of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman.
Bader bin Abdullah was identified in documents reviewed by the New York Times as the buyer of the painting, which was sold at Christie's in New York on November 15. The crown prince of Saudi Arabia and his counterpart in Abu Dhabi enjoy a close working relationship and on 5 December their countries announced the formation of a Joint Cooperation Committee to formalise existing collaboration on military, political, economic and cultural matters.
"We are delighted that the work will again be on public view", a Christie's spokesperson said of the record-setting painting. However the identity of the buyer has remained an elusive secret with speculation now focusing on the Abu Dhabi Royals as the purchaser.
Auction house Christie's demanded he provide a $100 million deposit just to be confirmed as a bidder, and then sit through a rigorous process where Christie's accountants conducted due diligence on his wealth.
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 NY. The painting is purchased by an anonymous buyer for a record-breaking $450 million in NY last month.
Bidding was strong for the Leonardo da Vinci painting.
It had sold for a mere 45 British pounds in 1958, when the painting was thought to have been a copy, and was lost until it resurfaced at a regional auction in 2005.
The painting was later sold by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, who bought it in 2013 for $US127.5 million in a private sale that became the subject of a continuing lawsuit.