A fire sale comprising 200 works of art from troubled private equity firm Abraaj Group has produced $5.9m (AED21.7m) after three sales were held in London in a bid to raise money to settle a $1 billion debt to investors.
Every piece of the group’s collection was sold, making the sale at London auction house Bonhams a white glove sale. It included Arab, Iranian and South Asian paintings and sculptures which were acquired by the Dubai-based firm in the early 2000s prior to the financial crash.
At the Wednesday auction, a painting by Indian artist Manjit Bawa secured the highest price of $615,000 (AED2.3m). ‘Untitled’ featured two women, including one seated in traditional Punjabi costume, surrounded by dogs. It was sold to an anonymous Indian buy for three times the price it held at auction 12 years ago, according to Bonhams.
Many of the pieces in the collection had appeared in exhibitions, monographs and publications.
Bonhams director of Middle Eastern, Islamic and South Asian Art, Nima Sagharchi said, "It was a great honour to offer this wonderful collection for sale and we are delighted at the results. The Abraaj Collection was well known for its exceptional quality and I am not surprised that collectors took the opportunity to purchase works with such distinguished provenance."
Bonhams Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art specialist Tahmina Ghaffar added, "The exceptional prices achieved show the confidence in the market for art from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka."
There will also be an online only auction of other items from the Abraaj collection in November, the auction house said.
The Abraaj Group first underwent trouble when it faced allegations of misusing investor money in its $1 billion healthcare fund, which included investors such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi continues to deny all claims of misuse.
Abraaj Holdings is undergoing provisional liquidation in the Cayman Islands through a court-driven restructuring process.For all the latest art news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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