U.S. government intelligence sources and a Saudi art-world figure all confirmed to The Journal that Crown Prince Mohammed was the buyer of a $450 million Leonardo da Vinci painting of Jesus Christ.
Despite Prince Bader's relatively obscure status, he is seen as a close friend of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and has become more prominent in the kingdom since the crown prince's ascension.
Unlike much of the Saudi elite, which has been scooped up or intimidated into silence by Prince Mohammed's ongoing purge, Prince Bader appears to be in good standing with the heir apparent to King Salman's thrown.
Bader is one of more than 5,000 princes in Saudi Arabia.
According to documents reviewed by the New York Times, Prince Bader is paying Christie's the $450.3 million (including a buyer's premium) in six monthly installments of roughly $58.4 million each. Prior to the auction, Christie's lawyers questioned him about his ties to the royal family and the source of his money, which he told them came from real estate.
Badar was reportedly so unknown to Christie's - the auction house in New York City that sold the painting - that the officials at the art house were still trying to confirm the prince's identity even after he made a $100 million deposit to qualify for the auction. But the Times investigation found that he certainly owns more than property. However, Prince Bader attended King Saud University in Riyadh around the same time or along with Prince Mohammed.
He was the chairman (appointed by Prince Mohammed) of Saudi Research and Marketing Group, the publisher of Arab newspaper Al Share Al Awsat and other publications.
As for Prince Bader, when he's not palling around with Prince Mohammed, he also works on side projects like partnerships with those ranging from Verizon to Michael Bloomberg, as well as large program he founded to manage the country's recycling.
"Salvator Mundi", which means "Savior of the World", went on public display in 2011 in a dramatic unveiling at The National Gallery in London, where the work was declared to be the first newly discovered Da Vinci painting in a century. Russian billionaire Dmitry E. Rybolovlev was the previous owner, who paid $127.5 million in 2013.