Sales at Sotheby's inaugural auction in Dubai reached $3.6 million, with a sell-through rate of 80 percent.
Bidders in the room, on the phone and online competed to buy works spanning 20th Century and contemporary Middle Eastern and international art, design, photography, jewellery, books and manuscripts and arts of the Islamic world.
The first lot of the sale - an English-speaking footage of the pilgrimage to Makkah from a documentary directed by Marcel Ichac in 1948 - sold for $62,500, over four times its pre-sale estimate.
Sotheby's said the sale attracted a broad span of regional and international participation, with 30 percent from the UAE alone.
The top lot of the sale was Ali Banisadr’s explosive canvas In Media Res, a mix of colour and exuberant brushstrokes inspired by elaborate Persian miniatures, which went for $459,000 after a bidding battle between six people.
Encapsulating Western artists’ fascination with the Middle East were works by major international modern artists offered for the first time at auction in the Middle East including French artist Jean Dubuffet.
Dubuffet spent a considerable amount of time with the Bedouin people of the Algerian desert and a rare example from the body of early works executed on his travels, Palmiers aux Bedouins, was pursued by five bidders and sold above high estimate for $137,500.
The sale also offered examples of contemporary design and Zaha Hadid’s Prototype Aqua Table sold for double its pre-sale high estimate for $21,240.
The last major collection of its kind, a previously unknown series of letters and works on paper by Khalil Gibran – one of the greatest novelists of modern Arab and American literature – was hotly contested and soared to a combined total of $183,750, three times the pre-sale high estimate.
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