Christie's denies Qatari Sheikh was buyer of $179m Picasso

Speculation that former Qatar PM was secret buyer of Picasso's ‘Les Femmes D'Alger’ painting
Les femmes dAlger (Version O) painted by Pablo Picasso. Getty Images)
By Neil Halligan
Sun 24 May 2015 11:56 AM

A Qatari Sheikh is not the secret buyer of Picasso ‘Les Femmes D'Alger’ painting, which was sold at a New York auction to a mystery buyer.

Reports in the US and UK speculated that Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, the former Prime Minister of Qatar, was the buyer of the painting, which sold at auction for a record $179 million.

However, a number of media outlets have said that the Qatari billionaire is not the buyer of the painting. CNBC said Al Thani is “definitely” not the buyer, while the UK's The Telegraph removed its story speculating that it was Al Thani, and issued a short clarification on the story.

Qatar newspaper, the Peninsula, meanwhile, said Christies, who handled the auction have also denied the rumours.

A Picasso oil painting from 1955 smashed the record for the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction, surpassing estimates that ‘Les femmes d'Alger (Version 'O')’ would sell for about $140 million.

The most expensive work of art previously sold at auction had been Francis Bacon's triptych 'Three Studies of Lucian Freud,' which sold for $142.4 million at Christie's in November 2013.

The record-setting Picasso was last auctioned in 1997, selling for $31.9 million or nearly three times its pre-sale estimate.

Bidding started this time at $100 million, with deep-pocketed collectors driving the price upward in $1 million increments.

Christie's said active bidders came from 35 countries, with European and Asian collectors in particular competing with Americans for the top-tier works.

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