ARTnewsletter Archive

Middle Eastern Art Sale Falls Short of Expectations

Sotheby’s fourth sale of contemporary Arab and Iranian art held in London on Oct. 4, realized £2.3 million ($3.6 million), compared with an estimate in excess of £2.5 million.

LONDON—Sotheby’s fourth sale of contemporary Arab and Iranian art held in London on Oct. 4, realized £2.3 million ($3.6 million), compared with an estimate in excess of £2.5 million. The sale was uneven. Despite numerous better-than-expected prices on some works, less than half of the lots offered—54 of 121—found buyers. By lot, the auction was 44 percent sold, by value it realized 64 percent.

Sotheby’s claimed ten new artist auction records. However, many works offered were by younger artists with limited or no secondary market, and estimates were relatively modest.

Several, solid six-figure prices were achieved for a number of older works that topped the sale. These included: the highest lot, an untitled abstract work, ca. 1970, by Iranian artist Sohrab Sepehri that sold for £385,250 ($595,596) on an estimate of £200,000/300,000; a Bahman Mohasses untitled oil of a figure perched on the edge of a rowboat, 1966, that realized £121,250 ($187,452) on an estimate of £50,000/70,000; and Jawad Selim’s Portrait of a Girl, ca. 1950, that sold for £235,250 ($363,700) compared with an estimate of £70,000/90,000.

A dealer paid £277,250 ($428,629) for Yusuf Huwayyik’s A Portrait of Emir Faisal Ibn Al-Hussain, 1925, a bronze that was estimated at £30,000/40,000. Sotheby’s noted that the price set a “benchmark” as the artist was new to auction.

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