Latest twist in ‘Salvator Mundi’ painting case again aims to target Saudi

Back in 2017, the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince was criticized in the West for anti-corruption policies directed against many leading Saudis who had close ties to friends in New York, Washington, Paris, London and elsewhere. The narrative media presented at the time were Mohammed Bin Salman, often referred to as “MBS”, who fought corruption domestically but spent abundantly abroad. Many of the articles were based on guesswork, rumors and innuendos, and some of them were promoted by Saudi’s critics in Qatar, Turkey and elsewhere. But others have been written as fact by leading publications. For example, the New Yorker claimed that MBS bought a castle near Paris and “spent four hundred and fifty million dollars on” Salvator Mundi, “the Leonardo da Vinci portrait of Jesus Christ that he donated to the new Paris branch in the Louvre Abu Dhabi. “The New York Times reported in December 2017 that” last month Leonardo da Vinci’s painting ‘Salvator Mundi’ was sold. “A December 7 article in the Wall Street Journal alleged that MBS was” a buyer of da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” has been identified. The articles presented the purchase as somewhat controversial. It was linked to a “gimmick” for the leading Saudi. Usually the story of rich Saudis or people buying expensive paintings is not an issue of national security or foreign policy. But for some reason, because there were many people wanting to target the Crown Prince, the stories were saturated with quotes from former “intelligence officers” and others. The Middle East reported that “Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman used a proxy to purchase the $ 450 million Leonardo da Vinci painting that painted Salvator Mundi, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing sources including not identified US intelligence officials. ” Now the story has taken a new turn, leading to questions about why “intelligence officials” accused MBS of buying a painting that may have been compromised by controversial authenticity. “The mystery of why Salvator Mundi, the world’s most expensive painting, was not seen in the 2019 blockbuster show Leonardo da Vinci at the Louvre in Paris will be revealed in a new documentary that will premiere on French television on April 13th should.” says Art Net, a website. Now a new documentary called Savior for Sale speaks to anonymous sources who claim the plan to exhibit the work failed because the Louvre refused to bow to Saudi Arabia’s demands to show the painting as an autograph to Leonardo, reports the art newspaper. According to the article, the museum is said to have conducted its own scientific analysis of the $ 450 million work that broke every auction record in history when it was sold at Christie’s New York in 2017. The Louvre did not agree to the auction house accounting for the work as the “male Mona Lisa” and the last painting by the Renaissance master that exists in private hands. “Now the story is made more complex by the claim that Da Vinci“ only made a contribution to the painting. ”Again, people in the shadows come out to talk about the painting. A man with a“ code name Jacques ”was interviewed in the film. Once again, this is a story that seems to go way beyond a painting and appears to be about international relations and the attempts by some countries to use national media to embarrass Saudi Arabia and its Crown Prince The Iranian report claims that MBS pressured the French to exhibit the painting. “The Saudi Crown Prince did so to avoid the public humiliation of having spent hundreds of millions of dollars buying the painting. which was attributed to the Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci. “Accordingly, the painting appeared Not in Abu Dhabi or Paris in 2019. Suddenly, a story where MBS was targeted for inconsistencies over spending and corruption was about authenticating an expensive painting. Isn’t that a little strange? The original reason we were told this was a scandal was because of the appearance of lavish spending. But the painting had been quietly bought and donated to Abu Dhabi’s Louvre. So what was the problem? Isn’t that philanthropy? Why did the crown prince’s name appear at all, since he had not shown the painting? Now the story shifts to claims that the Saudis tried to put pressure on France. “The documentary showed that some members of the French government, including Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, had advocated bin Salman’s request because they were concerned about the implications for France’s far-reaching strategic and economic relations with Riyadh.” says Press TV. According to reports, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian “was lobbying on behalf of the Saudi prince, according to the documentary… Macron has decided to reject the prince’s motion, leaving it to the Louvre to negotiate with the Saudis about what the painting will look like should be present, ”states the New York Post. Another enemy of Saudi Arabia has once again got into the painting controversy. Turkey’s government-run TRT, which reflects the views of the ruling AK party, has an article criticizing Saudi Arabia. “A French documentary has claimed that” Salvator Mundi “, the most expensive painting in the world, was not exhibited at the Louvre in 2019 because experts doubted its authenticity. #WhereIsSalvatorMundi #LeonardoDaVinci #MBS “, says TRT. Now the story has shifted from wasteful spending to where the painting is. It is almost as if the narrative of an attack on Saudi Arabia for the purchase and donation of the painting has progressed to an inadequate display of the painting. What’s really going on here? The Turkish president massively wasted a new presidential palace with 1,000 rooms, which cost around 600 million US dollars in 2014. The regimes in the Middle East also had expensive art in the past. Iran once had the painting by Dutch Expressionist Willem de Kooning called “Frau III” but hid it after it was classified as objectionable after the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It was sold to Steven A. Cohen by David Geffen in 2006, according to Willem-de- Kooning.org. So why does it matter which painting MBS bought when they quietly donated it? It is interesting that a story allegedly about lavish spending comes back to light in international relations, but is now related to the supposed pressure on France. The enemies of Saudi Arabia have stopped complaining that a central figure in the kingdom tacitly acquired and donated the painting, but have requested to see the painting and claim that it may not be as authentic as originally thought. If so, it could be that someone had an interest in passing this on to the Saudis. If yes why? How did the painting sell for so much money to question its authenticity a few years later? Why was the painting described as da Vinci in 2017 with no questions asked? The New York Post now reports that “the world’s most expensive painting was only partially done by Leonardo da Vinci – a revelation that, according to a new documentary, allegedly sparked a cover-up and international political scandal.” The same article contains the following quote: “The Saudis are scared of this debate about authenticity,” said Chris Dercon, who heads one of France’s leading museum groups and advises the Saudi government on art. “They are afraid that people at home and abroad will say, ‘You spent all that money on something that isn’t Da Vinci. ‘“So the story started in 2017 when it came down to spending too much fighting corruption, simply spending too much on something that wasn’t what it promised? That should raise questions about what happened in 2017, but instead it’s a different story again aimed at MBS as opposed to doing business in the art world. It seems confusing that a painting would have sold for so much money in 2017. The art newspaper stated in April 2019 that “the National Gallery justifies its depiction of the controversial Salvator Mundi painting in its Leonardo exhibition 2011-12 after critical comments in a new book by Ben Lewis. In The Last Leonardo, Lewis questions the attribution process, saying that some specialists believe it was partially painted by the master’s assistants. He also points out that the National Gallery’s presentation was used as a full Leonardo by Christie’s when the auction house sold the painting for $ 450 million in 2017. In fact, this article states that scientists cast doubts about the painting in 2008 and that some believed that the entire painting was not painted by da Vinci. When Christi listed the painting in 2017, it was described as a da Vinci autograph, the article says. “This judgment meant that Christie’s was able to sell the work as a full-fledged Leonardo from 1500. Without this firm attribution, it would have been impossible to hit anything like the eventual price of $ 450 million – making it by far the most expensive artwork ever sold. “That sounds like a story that is more of a scandal for the art world than for Riyadh. It remains to be seen why and how the story was then turned into something about MBS that includes anonymous sources, code names, and intelligence officers. Unless, of course, the real story is about using a painting to somehow target MBS because it has a lot of critics overseas. In 2018, MBS was accused of being involved in arranging the murder of former Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey. That was after the story about the painting in 2017, which shows that MBS was already under pressure. We may never know how and why this painting became such a lightning rod.

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