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Thu 22 Mar 2018 08:29 AM

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Christie's CEO says art market 'strong' ahead of Dubai auctions

Christie's sales of art and collectibles rose 26% last year

Christie's CEO says art market 'strong' ahead of Dubai auctions
A man looks at a painting by Lebanese artist, Ayman Baalbaki at Christie's Auction house in Dubai.

Christie’s, which is holding auctions of watches and post-war and contemporary art this week in Dubai, expects to build on a “strong art market” this year, with the Middle East playing a “very important” role, Chief Executive Officer Guillaume Cerutti said.

“Let’s say the basics are very positive and we are on very strong and safe grounds this year,” Cerutti said Wednesday in an interview.

Last year, Christie’s sales of art and collectibles rose 26 percent with auction sales up 38 percent, led by Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Salvator Mundi” soaring to a record $450 million in November. The 500-year-old painting of Christ was acquired by the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

The Middle East is “without a doubt a very important part of today’s art market,” Cerutti said. The bidding for the Da Vinci painting proves “the Middle East is a major player.”

The watch auction on Friday has 219 lots, estimated at $5 million to $8 million, before the buyer’s premium.

The art auction on Thursday has 73 lots, estimated at as much as $4.4 million. It’s the first time the watch auction has a higher estimate than the art sale, according to Michael Jeha, managing director and deputy chairman of Christie’s Middle East.

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