Mideast Art Scores US$10.6m at Christie’s During Art Dubai, Abdul Hadi El-Gazzar Top Performer

Arab, Iranian, and Turkish Art boasts 65 percent increase over 2013.

Courtesy Christie's

Christie’s Modern and Contemporary Arab, Iranian & Turkish Art sale in Dubai totaled US$10,648,250 (including buyer’s premium). This is a healthy result for this sector, boasting a 65 percent increase over last year’s result (US$6,384,750). 140 of 156 lots offered sold, a sell-through rate of 93 percent by lot and 90 percent by value.

With auctions, timing can be key. Christie’s sale has no doubt greatly benefited from its new date, scheduled to coincide with Dubai Art Week (soon to be Dubai Art Month, we hear) spearheaded by the contemporary art fair Art Dubai. The annual fair already attracts collectors from all over the region and beyond. The large number of new buyers registered for this year’s Christie’s sale, an impressive 20 percent, proves the point.

“It is a sign of the continuing strength and maturity of this market that, as in other great art cities around the world, Dubai has taken its place in the international art calendar,” comments Christie’s managing director in the Middle East Michael Jeha. Christie’s sales make up 74 percent of the market in the region, he says.

Forming the bulk of Wednesday’s auction, the Pharos Collection of Modern Egyptian Art collectively fetched US$3,895,500—more than doubling its presale estimate. The top lot was a delicate watercolor by the modernist Abdul Hadi El-Gazzar, Construction of the Suez Canal, which realized US$1,023,750—a record for the artist.

While modern art saw good results across the board, it is worth noting that the third lot was by a relatively young contemporary artist: the Iranian Ali Banisadr (born 1976). His painting Black 3 (2009) almost tripled the lower bound of its presale estimate, selling for US$339,75o, a new record for the artist.

During Christie’s and Canvas Magazine’s Collectors Dinner in Dubai earlier this week, a senior Christie’s director told artnet News that people in the region “loved the new, that’s why contemporary art is doing so well here.”

Christie’s has catered to this taste while increasingly focusing on art from the Gulf. It also doesn’t shy away from satisfying its clients’ more consumerist side with coinciding watches and jewelry sales. Yesterday’s Important Watches auction (totaling US$3,097,313) exceeded its presale estimate, although by a much smaller margin than the art sale.


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