Christie's nets $8m in record-breaking Dubai art auction

London auction house broke 42 records with sale of Middle East contemporary art
Christie's nets $8m in record-breaking Dubai art auction
Christie’s auction of Modern and Contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish Art raised nearly $8m
By Joanne Bladd
Wed 20 Apr 2011 04:33 PM

Auction house Christie’s raised nearly $8m in a sale of contemporary Middle Eastern art held in Dubai on Tuesday, breaking sale records for five of the artists featured.

A lot of six works from Saudi art project Edge of Arabia fetched $1,051,000 on the block, a significant jump from a pre-sale estimate of around $135,000.

‘Message/Messenger’, a wood and copper dome by artist Abdulnasser Gharem, sold for $842,500 to a private bidder, fetching more than ten times its original estimate.

More than 40 world auction records for Middle East artists were broken during the sale, which raised $7,980,875, Christie’s said in a statement Wednesday.

“Records tumbled in a standing-room-only saleroom, reflecting the increasing international appeal and quality of art from the Middle East,” said Michael Jeha, managing director of Christie’s Middle East.

“[We added] 42 records to the 318 already established by Christie’s sales in the Middle East.”

A piece by Abdul Hadi El-Gazzar named ‘Fishing’ sold for $746,500, setting a new sales record for the Egyptian artist. A heated bidding battle also secured a new price peak for Lebanese Ayman Baalbaki, when his painting ‘Let A Thousand Flowers Bloom’ was bought for $206,500.

Christie’s will be holding a jewellery auction Wednesday night and expects combined sales from the two events to reach $13m, Middle East director Isabelle de La Bruyere told Arabian Business.

Tonight’s event will see one world’s largest natural saltwater pearls put on the block. The drop shaped pearl is almost 60 carats and is expected to fetch up to $250,000.

Christie’s Dubai set the record for the highest-grossing auction of Middle East art in October, taking $31m. The privately-owned auction house has sold over $200m worth of art since it opened in Dubai in 2006.

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