NEW YORK—Christie’s part one sale of modern and contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish art, held on April 17 in Dubai, realized $4 million, clearing the high estimate of $3.9 million, for 40 lots offered. A total of 34 lots, or 85 percent of the works offered, found buyers. By value, the sale realized 91 percent. The total, however, was down from the $8 million realized last year and the $15.1 million realized in 2010.
A second, part two sale held on April 18 added another $2.4 million to the series, for a total of $6.4 million. Of 113 lots offered, 99, or 88 percent, were sold. By value, the auction was 93 percent sold.
The top lot of the evening sale was a painting by Egyptian artist Mahmoud Said titled Marsa Matrouh – Vers le bain de Cléopâtre, 1959, which doubled expectations to sell for $602,500, on an estimate of $250,000/300,000. The piece was acquired by a private Middle Eastern collector. Also by Said, Le Port de Beyrouth, 1954, sold for $302,500 compared with an estimate of $250,000/300,000.
A more contemporary work, Ahmed Alsoudani’s Untitled, oil, acrylic and charcoal on canvas, 2008, was the second-highest lot, realizing $386,500 on an estimate of $300,000/500,000.
The sale also posted four auction records, albeit for artists with relatively shorter track records. These included a record for Lebanese artist Saliba Douaihy, whose abstract painting Regeneration, 1974, sold for $278,500, well above the $80,000/120,000 estimate, and for Egyptian artist Adel El-Siwi, whose 2011 mixed media on canvas, in two parts, titled The Red & The Blue, sold for $158,500, compared with an estimate of $60,000/80,000. The work by Douaihy came from the collection of the North Carolina Museum of Art, and was sold to benefit the institution’s acquisition fund.
A record was also set for Saudi Arabian artist Abdulnasser Gharem when In Transit V (from the “Restored Behavior” series), 2012, sold for $116,500, on an estimate of $30,000/50,000. The unique work, comprised of industrial lacquer paint on rubber stamps and plywood, depicts a runway with a plane that could be landing or taking off, surrounded by elaborate Islamic imagery.
Michael Jeha, Christie’s managing director of the Middle East and head of the sale, said the offering gave collectors “a rare chance to see the past, present and future talent among the artists of the Middle East and Turkey.”
The top lot of the day sale was a work by Syrian artist Fateh Moudarres titled Woman at the Wedding, 1963. The oil and sand on canvas sold for $80,500, compared with an estimate of $25,000/30,000. The same price was achieved for Safwan Dahoul’s Rêve, 2000; an oil on a wooden door with embedded nails that had been estimated at $20,000/25,000.
Two works by Lebanese artist Paul Guiragossian sold for $74,500 each, including his ca. 1971–72 Intérieur (estimate: $30,000/40,000) and L’Adieu, 1962 (estimate: $20,000/30,000).
Jeha noted that the part two sale for this genre is “still in its infancy,” adding that the result “shows that this was the right decision and the market is ready for this next step.” About one-fifth of the artists in the part two sale were new to auction.