NEW YORK—Sale volume dropped sharply while buy-in rates rose at Christie’s fifth sale of international modern and contemporary art in Dubai on Oct. 30. The auction realized $8.7 million (AED 31.8 million), down from the $20 million (AED 73.6 million) total achieved in April (ANL, 5/13/08). Christie’s offered 155 lots, compared with 198 in April.
Of the lots in this fall sale, 108, or 70 percent, were sold. By value the auction was 65 percent sold. Unlike last April’s auction, in which several works soared past their high estimates to take more than $1 million each, this sale’s demand was more measured, and prices were more in line with presale estimates. Christie’s specialist William Lawrie said after the sale that “selective bidding in some areas of this evening’s auction represents a settling of prices.”
Lawrie noted strong results for Arab art in particular, as well as “great commitment from private Middle Eastern collectors” for several top lots. A Christie’s statement said that the buyers were predominantly Middle Eastern (including Iranian), representing 69 percent of sales by lot, followed by Europeans (including Russians), who accounted for 19 percent; North and South Americans, who made up 11 percent; and Asians, with 1 percent.
Two lots shared the top spot in the sales results, each selling for $482,500 (AED 1.8 million): Triptych (La passion avec croix, ame et bagages, and triangle bigames), 1985–86, by Algerian artist Rachid Koraichi (b. 1947), which carried an estimate of $400,000/600,000, and Loving Whisper, 2008, a painting by Iranian artist Mohammed Ehsai, which was estimated at $300,000/500,000.
A record was set for a work by Iranian artist Sohrab Sepehri (1928–80) when an untitled painting from the “Trees” series, circa early 1970s, sold for $302,500 (AED 1.1 million) against an estimate of $350,000/550,000. This surpassed the previous record set at Sotheby’s only a week before (See story below). An electric sculpture, the third in an edition of three by British duo Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Happy, 1999 (estimate: $250,000/350,000), was bought by an American collector for $302,500 (AED 1.1 million).
Another record was set with the $230,500 (AED 845,935) paid for Lebanese artist Paul Guiragossian’s 1989 painting Le Grande Marché (estimate: $180,000/250,000).