Christie's nets $14m in Middle East art auction

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Christie's Dubai auction of contemporary Middle Eastern art in 2009

Christie's Dubai auction of contemporary Middle Eastern art in 2009

Christie’s, the London auction house, on Wednesday said it took $14m in a sale of art works by the late Egyptian artist, Mahmoud Said, setting a new record for the most expensive Middle Eastern painting sold at auction.

The Dubai auction raised $14m, double Christie’s presale estimate of $6.7m and an increase of 117 percent on last year’s contemporary Middle East art sale, which was also held in the emirate.  

The Whirling Dervishes, a 1929 painting by Said, was sold to an anonymous bidder for $2.5m, well above its estimated price of $300,000-400,000 and setting a new record for a Middle Eastern painting sold at auction.

"In one year Christie’s Dubai achieved a 117 percent increase in the sale of contemporary Middle Eastern art,” said Michael Jeha, managing director, Christie’s, Middle East.

“Pictures for this sale were consigned from fifteen different countries and… they have been dispersed among buyers from eighteen different countries.”

All 30 works from the Dr Mohammed Said Farsi collection were also sold. 

Christie’s on Monday said it would remain privately owned after gas-rich Qatar revealed it was keen to buy the business.

“There are no discussions going on and Christie’s will remain in the private ownership that they are in at the moment,” Alexandra Kinderman, senior public relations director, Christie’s Europe, Russia and Middle East, told Arabian Business.

The auction house, which has 53 offices in 32 countries, is privately owned by the French businessman François Pinault.

The Financial Times had quoted Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani as saying he was eyeing the auction house as part of Qatar’s bid to become a cultural hub in the Gulf.

The emirate is already home to the I.M.Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art and is scheduled to open The Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in December.          

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