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Thu 27 Oct 2011 02:32 PM

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Christie’s sees sales of $7.3m at Dubai auctions

London-based auction house sees rising interest in modern Arab artwork

Christie’s sees sales of $7.3m at Dubai auctions
The Last Look by Lateefa Bint Maktoum sold for double its pre-sale estimate

Auction house Christie’s sold $7.3m of modern and contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish at its two auctions in Dubai this week, the London-based firm said Thursday.

Work by five contemporary Emirati artists totalled with $40,750 with Lateefa Bint Maktoum’s The Last Look sold for $12,500 against a pre-sale estimate of $6-8,000, said Christie’s.

Work by the contemporary Iranian artist Sohrab Sepehir sold for $662,500 to a private Middle Eastern collector, a world record at auction for the artist. Syrian artist Louay Kayyali also broke her own record at auction with Fisherman in Arward selling for $ 194,500.

Interest in contemporary Middle Eastern is continuing to grow, spurred by an increase in galleries, art shows and auctions, Isabelle de La Bruyere, director of Christie’s Middle East told Arabian Business.

“In May 2006 when we first started our sales we had 85 percent of our buyers were from the MENA region. Today, we are down to 65 percent of our buyers which really shows an international increase in from clients all over the world buying Middle Eastern art,” she said.

“It’s great that we’re supported by Middle Easterners but we also want international institutions and clients to look at Middle East art which is what we are achieving so it’s fantastic.”

Christie’s Dubai, which opened in the emirate in 2006, set the record for the highest-grossing auction of Middle East art in October, taking $31m.

The privately-owned auction house sold $5m of art on Tuesday and $2.3m on Wednesday, meeting pre-sale estimates of $4-6m and $2-3m.

Around 82 percent of lots were sold across both sales.

Modern Egyptian artist Mahmoud Said’s portrait Petite fille d’Assiout, painted in 1945 of a young maid servant, was the second highest sale at the two auctions after Sepehir. The piece sold for $650,000 to a private Middle Eastern private collector over the telephone.

Christie’s in July said first half sales increased 15 percent boosted by $10.8m in sales in the Middle East and auctions of contemporary works by artists such as Andy Warhol.

The company, which is owned by the French billionaire Francois Pinault, sold $3.2bn of art and antiques worldwide in January through June, the most for any half-year in sterling, Christie’s said.

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