NEW YORK—Sotheby’s will open an office in Doha, Qatar, later this year, and will hold its first major series of auctions there in early 2009.
Sotheby’s CEO Bill Ruprecht called Doha a “center of dynamic economic and cultural growth, not only for the region but also internationally.” Sotheby’s announced plans for its new outpost on Oct. 5 at Doha’s Ritz-Carlton, where it was holding an exhibition of works from its upcoming Impressionist and modern art sales in New York. (Sotheby’s is also exhibiting highlights from various upcoming sales in London and Geneva in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi this month.)
In Doha, alongside multimillion-dollar works by Marc Chagall, Fernand Léger and Henri Matisse, Sotheby’s also showed contemporary art, including work by Gerhard Richter, modern and contemporary Arab and Iranian art, Orientalist paintings, jewelry and watches.
Auction houses have targeted the Middle East as a key region of art-market growth, as newly wealthy buyers focus on their cultural heritage and art from the surrounding region in building their collections. Christie’s began holding art auctions in Dubai in 2006, and London-based auctioneer Bonhams held its first auction there last March (ANL, 3/18/08).
Museums are also flocking to Saadiyat Island, in Abu Dhabi. Outposts of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Louvre, as well as a new maritime museum and a classical-art museum, are slated for the cultural district as part of a $27 billion tourism development initiative.
In Qatar, the Museum of Islamic Art, designed by architect I. M. Pei, is to open in Doha next month, and the Qatar Museum Authority is also planning an expansion of its Qatar National Museum.