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.
The museum did not disclose whether it expected to receive the painting as a gift, a loan or a rental, and museum officials did not respond to requests for clarification.
Prince Bader, in a short statement on Thursday, questioned unspecified elements in The Times’s article but did not mention the painting, the purchase, the museum or the crown prince.
The Times contacted the Saudi Embassy again on Thursday, after learning from American officials that the crown prince was the true buyer, acting through his old friend, Prince Bader.
The Wall Street Journal, citing American intelligence agencies, also reported that the crown prince was the ultimate buyer.
It was not immediately clear why Prince Bader, the embassy and the museum waited until Friday to assert that he had acted as an agent for the Abu Dhabi museum, not for the crown prince.
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