Mohammad Bin Salman: How Does the Saudi Crown Prince Spend His Billions?

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman is a self-proclaimed anti-corruption crusader. However, some recent controversies have shinned a negative spotlight on the crowned prince and his lavish lifestyle. The prince has been spear-heading an economic transformation plan in Saudi Arabia. However, he came under scrutiny for his connection to President Donald Trump has who reportedly done $355 million in business deals in Saudi Arabia over the years. It has also been said that the prince is connected the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

According to The Telegraph, the prince is worth a jaw-dropping, $17 billion, so how does his spend his immense wealth?

A $300 million French chateau

In 2017, the New York Times revealed that the prince was the owner of the world’s most expensive home, Chateau Louis XIV. The house was constructed between 2008 and 2011 and is a high tech recreation of a 17th century French Chateau just outside of Paris. The home sits on 57-acres and has gardens worthy of Versaille. However, no one knew the crown prince even owned the home until the NYT broke the story.

A Leonardo da Vinci painting and a $500 million yacht

If something were to happen to Chateau Louis XIV the prince wouldn’t exactly be out of luck. He also owns a  $500 million yacht that he purchased in 2015, in a spur of the moment splurge frenzy. The New York Times also linked Prince Mohammad Bin Salman to the sale of the Leonardo da Vinci painting, “Salvator Mundi” which was sold at auction for a hefty $450.4 million.

Robert Jordan, the former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia under President George W. Bush told the Times that these extravagant purchases show that the prince really isn’t about reform at all. He told CNBC, “The lack of judgment and the lack of self-awareness that this reflects I think is shocking. There will be members of the royal family, others in the community, who are saying, “Wait a minute. This guy is just the biggest hypocrite in the world.” So, I think he’s got to be very careful to balance that.”

| Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

An ever-growing empire

While many people in the Western world are taken aback by the crown prince’s spending, many Saudis don’t feel like his personal purchases have anything to do with corruption. Bernard Haykel, professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton University told CNBC, “This is not a guy who is going to Monaco and dropping $100 million on gambling. That would be a very different kind of story.”

The Saudi Royal family has built their wealth and their empire through investments, oil, and other business ventures. Though the crown prince is one of the wealthiest members of the family, he is hardly the only billionaire. In fact, according to MSN, all 15,000 members of the Saudi royal family are worth $1.7 trillion combined.

With that much money at his fingertips it’s no wonder the crowned prince is trying to recreate the 21st-century version of Versailles.

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