Thursday, December 07, 2017

Another Riyadh Orb

Tom Friedman, writing about Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (2 weeks before his visit to Riyadh) --

Hearing that Saudi princes were arrested for “corruption” is like reading that Donald Trump fired seven cabinet secretaries “for lying.” You know it has to be something else. Trump obviously missed the story last year that M.B.S. impulsively bought a yacht while on vacation in the south of France — it just caught his fancy in the harbor — from its Russian owner for $550 million. Did that money come out of his piggy bank? Savings from his Riyadh lemonade stand? From his Saudi government 401(k)?

The Wall Street Journal is today reporting that the mystery buyer of the "lost da Vinci" painting Salvator Mundi is in fact MBS (yesterday's version, that another prince known only for real estate investments had bought it, was clearly implausible),

The sequencing of him buying a painting of Jesus (possibly as a gift to the Louvre Abu Dhabi) while Jerusalem goes through its current travails is awkward. Implicit in the revelation is that US intelligence leaked the news as a warning to MBS not to make too much noise about Jerusalem.

UPDATE: Important detail from the New York Times --

The Times on Wednesday sent detailed questions about the purchase to Prince Bader. The newspaper also contacted the Saudi Embassy in Washington. Three intermediaries for Prince Bader, including two affiliated with the embassy, asked The Times to delay publication to await a response from Prince Bader. But at the end of the day the intermediaries said Prince Bader would decline to speak, and around the same time, the Louvre Abu Dhabi said on Twitter that it was expecting to receive “Salvator Mundi,” at which point The Times published its article.

Other than the tweet, the Louvre Abu Dhabi has supplied no details on the processology of its acquisition, but it was convenient to have the story appear right at the NYT deadline!

By Leonardo da Vinci - Getty Images, Public Domain,

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