Because of a heated bidding war between the Qatari and Saudi royal families, Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev was able to pocket a cool $322 million by selling Leonardo Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi painting to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for $450 million.

Dive into the world of Dmitry Rybolovlev, Russia’s reigning titan of potassium fertilizers and a luminary in the billionaires‘ league, boasting a jaw-dropping net worth of $6.4 billion, as reported by Forbes. His opulent lifestyle extends beyond the ownership of a picturesque Greek island and an imposing superyacht; Rybolovlev is also a heavyweight in the art collecting circles. His crowning glory? The legendary ‘Salvator Mundi’ by Leonardo da Vinci. This celebrated piece, once the centerpiece of his extravagant collection, was later the star in a high-stakes art deal. The odyssey of ‘Salvator Mundi,’ acquired in May 2013 for a hefty $127.5 million, and its eventual sale for an eye-watering $450 million to Saudi Crown Prince MBS, is a tale of intrigue and opulence. This art transaction, marked by Rybolovlev’s shrewd acumen, netted a staggering $322 million profit, solidifying his status as an art collecting icon.

This painting, depicting Christ as the Savior of the World, was acquired by Dmitry Rybolovlev in 2013, a key piece in his staggering $2 billion art shopping spree. He later sold the painting in November 2017 for over $450 million at a Christie’s auction, setting the record for the most expensive painting ever sold. Post-sale, Rybolovlev engaged in a legal battle with art dealer Yves Bouvier, who had facilitated his purchase of 38 artworks, including this Da Vinci masterpiece, totaling $2 billion.

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Yves Bouvier

Bouvier faced accusations of swindling the wealthy Russian by inflating prices and pocketing the profits. Additionally, the Monaco resident sued Sotheby’s auction house, alleging their complicity in assisting the art dealer to inflate the prices of artworks. Returning to the topic of the most expensive painting ever sold, the tycoon netted a profit of an impressive $322 million by selling just this single artwork from his illustrious collection.

The mammoth Anna superyacht is as luxurious as it is green, boasting the first bespoke diesel-electric propulsion system. Source – Feadship.

Merely months after his blockbuster art deal, Dmitry Rybolovlev celebrated the arrival of his 361-foot-long superyacht Anna, a $250 million floating palace and a marvel of maritime engineering. Though the yacht’s acquisition wasn’t directly funded by the art sale, the staggering $322 million profit from that single transaction could have easily financed this majestic vessel, the largest Feadship motoryacht of its time, and still left a king’s ransom for his next grand indulgence.

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According to reports Saudi Crown Prince MBS hung the $450 masterpiece on his $400 million Serene superyacht. Via Charterworld

What happened to Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi?

In the gilded halls of Christie’s in November 2017, ‘Salvator Mundi’ was set to make waves with an anticipated $100 million bid. Yet, what unfolded was nothing short of a theatrical spectacle, as a deep-seated rivalry between Saudi and Qatari royals escalated into a frenetic bidding war. This intense competition, a blessing in disguise for Dmitry Rybolovlev, propelled the painting’s final price to a staggering $450 million.

The bidding war between the rich neighbors made Salvatore Mundi the most expensive piece of art to be auctioned. Source – Christies.

The fierce clash of royal egos turned out to be a windfall for the Russian billionaire, netting him a colossal profit of $322.8 million, a sum vastly exceeding his initial investment of $127.5 million. Now under the care of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, ‘Salvator Mundi’ is poised to be the centerpiece of a specially constructed gallery. While it was long rumored to be housed on the Prince’s luxurious $400 million superyacht, Serene, the painting’s exact whereabouts remain shrouded in mystery. In the end, it was the Crown Prince’s determination and wealth that secured this masterpiece, ensuring that it will receive the global admiration it deserves.

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With over 15 years of experience in luxury journalism, Neha Tandon Sharma is a notable senior writer at Luxurylaunches. Her expertise spans luxury yachts, high-end fashion, and celebrity culture. Beyond writing, her passion for fantasy series is evident. Beginning with articles on women-centric gadgets, she's now a leading voice in luxury, with a fondness for opulent superyachts. To date, her portfolio boasts more than 2 million words, often penned alongside a cappuccino.