The government of Saudi Arabia has spent $43 million to purchase the childhood home of Jackie Kennedy Onassis, wife of former US president John F. Kennedy.
The lavish seven-acre estate, which is situated in McLean, Virginia near Washington DC, comes complete with swimming pool, tennis court and a pavilion with an indoor lap pool, kitchen, gym and changing rooms. The main house is known to stretch over 23,000 square feet and dates back to 1919. The $43 million price tag is believed to be the most expensive sale price for a property in the area.
As yet it is unclear how the Saudi government will use the estate. According to CNBC, the official purchaser of the property was the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, so it is presumed the estate could become a “crash pad for visiting dignitaries from Saudi Arabia”.
The property is the latest in Saudi Arabia’s string of lavish purchases, which includes paying $450.3 million for the Salvator Mundi, Leonardo da Vinci’s famous art work depicting Jesus Christ. Despite the initial mystery surrounding the buyer, it was revealed that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman had used a proxy to make the purchase. Officials at London auction house Christie’s established the identity of the proxy buyer as Prince Bader, who is part of a distant branch of the Saudi royal family and who is said to be a business partner of Bin Salman.
Bin Salman also previously bought a 440-foot yacht from Russian vodka tycoon Yuri Shefler, to the tune of $602 million. Bin Salman reportedly spotted the yacht while holidaying in the south of France and dispatched an aide to buy it. The Russian moved off the yacht the same day, according to the New York Times.
The Crown Prince’s extravagant purchases have raised eyebrows among observers, who were quick to point out their irony in light of Bin Salman’s drastic austerity measures imposed on the Kingdom in recent years. Following falling oil prices and plans to eliminate the budget deficit by 2020, Riyadh imposed new taxes and slashed spending as part of the austerity drive.