By Elsa Baxter
London auction house has no formal offer from Qatar; remains privately owned - spokesperson
Christie’s, the London auction house, 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.
Christie’s is privately owned by the French businessman François Pinault.
The Financial Times on Sunday 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.
“We are building a museum and it [Christie’s] has links with the stuff we are collecting for our museum. It depends on the opportunity – if we had a good opportunity we would not hesitate,” Al Thani was quoted as saying.
Qatar has not yet made a formal approach.
Qatar’s growing wealth has seen it become the largest dealmaker in the Gulf, boasting a per capita income of $83,000. The emirate is home to the world’s third largest gas reserves and has taken care to reinvest its energy revenues into a diversified international asset portfolio.
Today, Qatar holds stakes in retail giant J Sainsbury, the London Stock Exchange and Barclays Bank; and in May bought London department store Harrods in a $2.3bn deal.
Qatar’s UK property portfolio also includes assets such as London Bridge Tower, Chelsea Barracks and the US embassy building in Grosvenor Square, London.
Christie’s is set to hold two sales in Dubai this week that, combined, are projected to make between $20m and $27m. However, the auction house has no plans to expand its sales into other Gulf states said Michael Jeha, managing director, Christie’s Middle East.
“We never shut the door on anything and we’re always open to explore other options and opportunities. But, in general we tend to like to pick a location and that location can serve as the hub for the entire region. It’s a similar story in the US for example our auctions are in New York, and New York can service the entire of the US market. So it’s a similar situation here,” he told Arabian Business.
“We wouldn’t rule it out, but for the time being I would say our auctions in Dubai are certainly a hub for the Middle East,” he said.
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