NEW YORK—Bonhams auctioneers, London, held an inaugural sale of Middle Eastern art at the Royal Mirage Hotel in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, on March 3, that fetched more than $13 million—nearly tripling the low $5 million estimate.
Of 136 lots on offer, 94 percent found buyers. The auction featured a broad sampling of work by artists from Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan, among other Middle Eastern countries.
A record $1.05 million was paid for a painting by Iranian artist Farhad Moshiri (b. 1963), Eshgh (Love), 2007, in Swarovski crystals and glitter on canvas, which more than quintupled its $200,000 high estimate. According to Bonhams, it was the first Middle Eastern artwork to break the $1 million mark at auction.
Also setting a world record was the $504,000 given for Untitled, 1968, by Moshiri’s fellow Iranian Charles Hossein Zenderoudi (b. 1937). Some other top prices at the auction: the $480,000 paid for a picture by Parviz Tanavoli (b. 1937), Poet and the Bird, 2006, quadruple the high estimate of $120,000; the $456,000 tendered for a work by Indian artist Francis Newton Souza (1924-2002), The Elder, way past its $300,000 high estimate; and the $408,000 given for a painting by Egyptian Ahmed Moustafa (b. 1943), The Transcendental Mansions of the Moon, which sold within its $350,000/450,000 estimate.
A record was set as well for a painting by Pakistani artist Gulgee (1926-2007), Polo Player, which hurtled past its $80,000 high estimate to win $336,000.
Comments Matthew Girling, Bonhams chief executive for Europe and the Middle East: Results confirm “that the United Arab Emirates is an emerging commercial hub for modern and contemporary art from the region.”
Bonhams Dubai is a joint venture of Bonhams and the Al Tajir family. Mohammed Mahdi Al Tajir, former United Arab Emirates ambassador to England and western Europe, currently serves as an adviser to the president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Kalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.