Since 2015, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (aka MBS) has introduced and imposed several austerity measures in the wake of his sweeping plan to rein in government spending during low oil prices.
However, when it comes to his personal spending habits, MBS doesn't really practice what he preaches, it appears.
Just recently, he was revealed as the owner of a French chateau, which is believed to be the world's priciest home.
The 57-acre Chateau Louis XIV was sold to a mystery buyer in 2015 for $300 million. The New York Times confirmed in a report, citing sources close to the royal family, that the prince is its real owner.
While it may look like a structure built in the 17th century, the mansion was in fact built recently after a Saudi developer demolished a 19th century castle in 2009.
"Along with more standard flourishes for top-of-the-line properties, like a wine cellar and movie theater, the rotunda features an exquisite fresco on the ceiling while the moat includes a transparent underwater chamber with sturgeon and koi swimming overhead," The Times reported.
It even has fountains that can be controlled via iPhone.
Saudi Arabia has not yet commented on the purchase, which is the latest in the reports of extravagant purchases by the powerful member of the Saudi royal family.
He reportedly bought a $550 million yacht "on a whim" while vacationing in France in 2015. Ironically, at the time, MBS, then deputy-crown prince, imposed a cut to government employees' bonuses and benefits for the first time ever in the history of Saudi Arabia. Under the measures, wage increases for lower-ranking civil servants were suspended along with overtime and annual leave payments.
Earlier this month, a Saudi prince bought a Leonardo da Vinci painting, touted as the world's most expensive, for $450.3 million in November on behalf of the crown prince. However, the real buyer was said to have been Abu Dhabi’s department of culture and tourism.
The news of MBS' alleged purchase of the world's most expensive home comes amid his historic "anti-corruption" crackdown, which aims to prosecute Saudi royals, politicians and businessmen over ill-gotten wealth.
Meanwhile, the ownership of the chateau was reportedly concealed by shell companies in France and Luxembourg.
"Those companies are owned by Eight Investment Company, a Saudi firm managed by the head of Crown Prince Mohammed’s personal foundation," the Times added.
Thumbnail Credits: Reuters