Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been revealed as the buyer of a French chateau that became the world’s most expensive property when it sold for $300million in 2015.
The owner of the palace – which features a wine cellar, home theatre and moat filled with koi carp – was kept hidden at the time behind a series of shell companies based in France and Luxembourg.
But an investigation by the New York Times has found that the companies are all owned by Eight Investment Company, a Saudi firm managed by the head of the prince’s personal foundation.
Advisers to the Saudi royal family confirmed to the Times that the palace ultimately belongs to Salman.
The prince was also behind the recent purchase of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi which became the most expensive artwork ever sold when it swapped hands for $450million earlier this month, the Times believes.
Eight Investment Company was also used to buy the prince’s spectacular $400million superyacht Pegasus VIII from a Russian vodka tycoon in 2015.Salman was revealed as the estate’s buyer at a time when he is cracking down on what he says is corruption among the country’s elite.Daily mail reports.
Hundreds of the kingdom’s most prominent and wealthiest individuals have been detained at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, with many saying they have been told to cough up huge sums of money in return for freedom.
Salman has said he hopes to raise $100billion from seizing what he claims are ill-gotten gains.
He is also overseeing a reformation project dubbed Vision 2030 which will see the kingdom diversify away from oil while seeking to balance the government accounts.
Also on the agenda is curtailing Saudi’s powerful Islamic clerics by moving toward a more moderate form of Islam, including allowing women to drive and licencing cinemas to reopen.
Arab money speaking!