By Laura Collacott
Bonhams opens first office in Middle East, identifying the region as a key fine art growth market.
Established since 1793, the London-based company Bonhams has opened its first sales office in the Middle East, showing an increasing trend for art sales in the Gulf. Allegedly driven by regional collectors looking to enhance privately owned residential and commercial properties, the art market is currently strong and of growing importance to international auction houses. The decision to locate here confirms Bonhams' commitment to the development of this market. And growth is clearly on their minds as they reported 2006 worldwide gross sales of nearly US$500m, making it one of the largest and fastest growing auction houses in the world.
European Chief Executive, Matthew Girling, justified the shift saying, "We've identified this as a key growth area for ‘investments of passion', an increasing trend in this market for collecting antiques, classic cars and fine art as alternative wealth investment opportunities. We believe our strong heritage and leading position in the global art world will contribute to the continued rise in interest of regional buyers considering becoming collectors."
Bonhams Dubai is a joint venture with the locally-based Al Tajir family, who are renowned fine art and collectibles connoisseurs. His Excellency, Mohammed Mahdi Al Tajir, was the former United Arab Emirates Ambassador to Great Britain and Western Europe and is currently an advisor to HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi.