ARTnewsletter Archive

Christie’s Dubai Sale Shows Solid Appetite for Arab Art

Christie’s took in a total of $6.7 million in its sale of international modern and contemporary art in Dubai on Oct. 27, missing the total estimate of $8 million/11 million.

NEW YORK—Christie’s took in a total of $6.7 million in its sale of international modern and contemporary art in Dubai on Oct. 27, missing the total estimate of $8 million/11 million. Of 163 lots on offer, 117, or 72 percent, were sold. By value, the auction was 74 percent sold. Christie’s said the buying was 63 percent Middle Eastern (including Iran), 21 percent European, 12 percent North and South American and 4 percent Asian.

Christie’s previous Dubai sale, last April, realized $4.8 million (ANL, 5/12/09), and its sale there last October took in $8.7 million (ANL, 11/11/08).

Michael Jeha, managing director of Christie’s Middle East, said works had been consigned from as far away as Scandinavia, California and France. “Despite the global economic troubles of the last year, the appetite for art in the Middle East continues to grow, as does the international appreciation for Middle Eastern art,” he said.

The top lot was Remembrance and Gratitude, 2009, a diptych by Egyptian artist Ahmed Mous­tafa (b. 1943), which sold for $662,500, a new record for a modern work by an Arab artist (estimate: $600,000/800,000). That was followed by Indian artist Tyeb Mehta’s oil on canvas Untitled (Yellow Heads), 1979, which sold for $578,500 on a $500,000/700,000 estimate. Another new artist record was the $242,500 paid for Turkish artist Burhan Dogançay’s Rift (from the “Ribbons” series), 1977, on an estimate of $200,000/250,000.

Works by Iranian artists among the top lots included Parviz Tanavoli’s bronze sculpture The Wall and the Heech, 2008, which sold for $182,500 against an estimate of $140,000/180,000, and Farhad Moshiri’s painting Tar Jar, 2006, which brought $146,500, missing the low end of the $150,000/200,000 estimate.

William Lawrie, Christie’s specialist and the head of the sale, said afterward that the results indicated a “return of confidence with solid and realistic results throughout, and healthy prices for works by many of the most established artists in the field.”

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