What Are The Top 10 Al-Thani Family Art Acquisitions?

Sheikh Saud alone spent $1 billion on art in just 7 years.

Paul Cezanne, The Card Players (1892–93).
Paul Cezanne, The Card Players (1892–93). Purchased by Qatar for roughly $250 million in 2011.

Sheikh Saud Al-Thani’s surprise death (see “Qatar’s Sheikh Saud Died of Complications Related to Heart Condition“) has put a renewed focus on Qatar and the country’s ruling Al-Thani family.

The Sheikh and his many relatives were also some of the world’s biggest art collectors of everything from fine art and vintage cars to rare watches (see “Sheikh Al-Thani’s Watch Sells for $24 Million After His Mysterious Death“). Over the years, in fact, the late Sheikh and his family, Qatar royalty, have spent many billions on art and other collectibles, building an enormous collection that includes the rarest and most magnificent oriental, Islamic, and western contemporary and historical art, as well as an incredibly deep Indian jewelry collection.

Once labelled the “modern-day equivalents of the Medicis,” the family has been applauded for its commitment to collections and the establishment of museums in a region bereft of cultural institutions. They have established the Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, I.M Pei’s Islamic Museum of Art, a combined Natural History Museum and Qatar National Library, a Museum of Photography, and a Museum of Clothes & Textiles.

In the wake of the death of Sheikh Saud, at age 48, we thought we would put together a tribute to him listing the top 10 acquisitions that he and the Al-Thani family have acquired. In some cases the prices paid are indeed phenomenal, but what stands out is the diversity of the Sheikh’s interests and undimmed passion for collecting. He was the world’s biggest collector.

 

1. Paul Cézanne, The Card Players, $250 million
This masterpiece is supposedly the most expensive work ever sold.

Paul Cezanne, The Card Players.

Paul Cezanne, The Card Players.

2. Mark Rothko, White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender), $72.8 million
This “Rockefeller Rothko” was reportedly purchased by the Al-Thani family at a Sotheby’s auction in May 2007.

Mark Rothko, White Center.

Mark Rothko, White Center.

3. Andy Warhol, The Men in Her Life, $63. 4 million
Philippe Ségalot reportedly orchestrated the acquisition of Warhol’s 1962 work. It was sold at Phillip’s in New York in November 2010.

Andy Warhol, The Men in Her Life.

Andy Warhol, The Men in Her Life.

4. Fabergé egg, $9.57 million
The egg was bought at a Christie’s auction in New York in 2002.

 

Sheikh Saud purchased a Fabergé egg at Christie's in 2002. This is a replica of what a traditional Fabergé looks like.

Sheikh Saud purchased a Fabergé egg at Christie’s in 2002. This is a replica of what a traditional Fabergé looks like.

5. James John Audubon, Birds of America, $8.8 million
The late Sheikh Saud Al-Thani purchased this masterpiece, which at the time was the world’s most expensive book.

A page in The Birds of America.

A page in The Birds of America.

6. The Clive of India Flask, $5 million
During Sheikh Saud’s shopping spree in London, he beat London’s V&A museum to purchase the £3m Clive of India flask.

The Clive of India Flask.

The Clive of India Flask.

7. Girault de Prangey, The Temple of Jupiter in Athens, $922,490
When Sheikh Saud purchased this photograph in 2003, he set a new record (beating one of his own previous purchases) for the most expensive price paid for a daguerreotype and for a photograph.

Girault de Prangey, The Temple of Jupiter in Athens.

Girault de Prangey, The Temple of Jupiter in Athens.

8. J. Ezra Merkin’s 11 Rothkos, $310 million
The family supposedly bought 11 Rothko paintings from financier J. Ezra Merkin when he had to liquidate the largest Rothko collection in the world due to his involvement with the Madoff scandal.

Mark Rothko, Green, Blue, Green on Blue (1968).

Mark Rothko, Green, Blue, Green on Blue (1968).

9. Werner Bokelberg‘s Photography collection, $15 million
Sheikh Saud in 2000 bought up Bokelberg’s 136 photograph collection which included masterpieces by Man Ray and Alfred Stieglitz.

Julia Margaret Cameron, Julia Prinsep Duckworth, April 1867  was just one of the 130 photographs in the collection.

Julia Margaret Cameron, Julia Prinsep Duckworth, April 1867 was just one of the 130 photographs in the collection.

10. Damien Hirst, Lullaby Spring, $19 million
Damien Hirst‘s pill cabinet was purchased in the spring of 2007 at Sotheby’s.

Damien Hirst, Lullaby Spring.

Damien Hirst, Lullaby Spring.


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