Qatar Sheikha spends $1bn on artworks annually

  • Share via facebook
  • Tweet this
  • Bookmark and Share

The sister of Qatar’s new Emir, Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, has been revealed as the new biggest player in the international art scene, spending $1bn annually on masterpieces.

According to The New York Times (NYT), Sheikha Al Mayassa is buying art “at a level never seen before”.

The 30-year-old, whose father abdicated in June, is investing on behalf of the Qatar Museums Authority, of which she is chairwoman, in an effort to make the oil-rich Gulf state a cultural haven.

“[Qatar Museums Authority is] the most important buyers of art in the market today,” Patricia G. Hambrecht, the chief business development officer for Phillips auction house, told the NYT.

“The amount of money being spent is mind-boggling.”

Sheikha Al Mayassa’s budget is estimated to be $1bn a year, by far outstripping other major museums such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, which spent $32m on artworks in 2011-12.

Such extravagant spending has buoyed the international art market and caused prices to rise.

Many of Sheikha Al Mayassa’s purchases have set new records. In fact she is responsible for the highest known price ever paid for a painting - $250m for Cézanne’s ‘Card Players’ in 2011, according to the NYT. That is four times the highest known price.

In 2007 Sheikha Al Mayassa led the purchase of a Rothko piece, ‘White Center’, for more than $70m. Previously, the highest price for his work had been $22m, for ‘Homage to Matisse’ in 2005.

Later that year she bought a Damien Hirst pill cabinet for more than $20m - then a record for a living artist.

It is no surprise then that Qatar would be sorely missed if it pulled out of the international art scene.

“When they finish their buying program and withdraw from the market they will leave a big hole, which I don’t see anyone else ready to fill at their level,” a New York dealer who spent 35 years as a top executive with Sotheby’s, David Nash told the NYT.

It is not known where the artworks are being held or where they will eventually be displayed, if anywhere. But experts believe they could become part of a new contemporary art institution in the country, yet to be announced.

The Qatar Museums Authority is creating a new home for the National Museum of Qatar as well as establishing the Museum of Islamic Art and Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, which all focus on regional artists, while the international collection is of Western artworks.

In a 2010 interview, Sheikha Al Mayassa said she believed that establishing art institutions might challenge Western preconceptions about Muslim societies.

That year she also said art was a “very important” part of Qatar’s national identity.

Qatar, with a GDP of at least $170bn, also is renown for its investment in international landmark buildings including London’s Harrods department store and a luxurious boutique on Paris’ Champs Élysées, as well as the Paris St Germain football club.

Related:
Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: abusidra

This wealth is an 'Amanah' 'trust' of the 'ummah', nation and Almighty will definitely question its use. Beware.

Posted by: Qatari

Maybe your country should invest in education more to make your people understand that Art is subjective. I have seen many artists who paint works not for commercial purposes.

Posted by: sara

totally on the spot. Exactly...how about the dire healthcare, roads with holes and more child/family friendly!

Posted by: Rohit

Rather Qatar should invest into it's own people who can create such art works; history is created by Hard Efforts & Intellectual and not by money.

Posted by: Hisham

Judging by your English, sudden unnecessary use of capitals and very strange comment, it's not like you're giving anyone the sense that your country has invested in your intellect... How do you invest in someone to become the next Picasso or Warhol or J.M. Basquiat? Do you think the Netherlands or someone invested in Van Gogh and that his paintings are valuable for that reason?!

Enter the words above: Enter the numbers you hear:

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Jordanian '2 Guns' producer topping the US box office

Jordanian '2 Guns' producer topping the US box office

Motaz Nabulsi’s latest release '2 Guns’ stars Mark Wahlberg and...

Kuwait sees quiet revival in arts scene

Kuwait sees quiet revival in arts scene

New generation of artists emerge eager to tackle sensitive issues...

1
Artist combines Gulf's favourites in new work

Artist combines Gulf's favourites in new work

Luxury, cars and creative art combine in Markus Haub's Racing...

Most Discussed
  • 54
    Three UAE women attacked with hammer at London hotel

    I really feel that Arabian Business.Com should now close this comments page. This should be all about sympathy for the families not what it is/has turned... more

    Wednesday, 16 April 2014 1:06 PM - Adrienne
  • 51
    Why Dubai isn't a plastic city

    What is definitely not a plastic city. The Arabs have a culture dating back to several centuries. 50 years back Dubai was just a fishing village. Today... more

    Tuesday, 8 April 2014 3:49 PM - P. MADHUSUDAN
  • 48
    DMCC boss Ahmed Bin Sulayem entertains Robert Mugabe in Dubai

    @fga ''However today, simply because he decided to dispossess a few white farmers of their land and redistribute to the poorer indigenous blacks'' more

    Sunday, 13 April 2014 3:02 PM - Matt Williams