Newcastle's prospective owner once spent £330m on 'fake' Leonardo da Vinci painting

Newcastle look to finally be moving on from highly-criticised owner Mike Ashley as a £300m takeover edges closer, but the Saudi prince backing the bid once splashed £330m on an allegedly fake Da Vinci painting

Posted Friday, October 08, 2021 by

Newcastle United’s potential new owner Mohammed bin Salman once spent £330million on an allegedly fake Leonardo Da Vinci painting, according to a documentary.

The Saudi crown prince, 36, chairs the Saudi Public Investment Fund aiming to take an 80% stake in the club, with some sources suggesting a £300million takeover is imminent.

The development follows news that Saudi Arabia has lifted its four-year ban on sports network beIN Sports to allow Premier League games to be broadcasted again, though human rights concerns still plague the potential deal.

And a feature-length documentary entitled ‘The Saviour for Sale’ sheds light on the prospective Magpies owner buying the ‘Salvator Mundi’ (Saviour of the World) portrait of Jesus Christ.

Newcastle's prospective owner once spent £330m on 'fake' Leonardo da Vinci painting
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman looks set to take over Newcastle United

The film by Antoine Vitkine revealed the controversy surrounding the painting, dubbed the male Mona Lisa, which was sold as the world’s most expensive painting in 2017.

Its whereabouts remained a mystery until it was reported that the 500-year-old piece was being kept on Salman’s 440-foot superyacht, Serene.

Questions surrounding its authenticity as a Da Vinci painting arose in 2018 when the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum cancelled its unveiling, before scientific experts suspected it was produced in Leonardo’s workshop but not by himself.

Art critic Ben Lewis and art historians Carmen Bambach claimed that the painting was likely the work of an assistant, with only “small retouchings” by Leonardo.

The film also featured several senior officials from President Emmanuel Macron’s government appearing under pseudonyms.

The takeover of Newcastle is nearing completion, although there are concerns about Saudi Arabia's human rights records.

Bin Salman has been accused of ordering the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was critical of the Saudi regime.

The crown prince denies the accusation.



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