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A Record Year for Christie's Dubai Sales of Contemporary Middle Eastern Art in 2010
An artwork entitled 'Babies' by Iranian artist Bita Fayyazi is seen during a Christie's auction house exhibition at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers in Dubai. EPA/ALI HAIDER.

DUBAI.- Christie’s, the world’s leading art business, announced that tonight’s sale of International Modern and Contemporary Art in Dubai made $14,043,000 / AED 51,565,896, more than doubling the pre-sale estimate of $6.7 million and confirming Christie’s market leadership in the region. The auction was 94% sold by value and 84% sold by lot. The buyer breakdown by lot was 60% from the Middle East, 28% from Europe, 10% from the Americas and 2% from Asia. The sale concludes a record year for Christie’s in contemporary Middle Eastern art, with an increase of 117 percent over 2009.

Jussi Pylkkänen, President of Christie’s Middle East and Europe, said: “A packed saleroom, a team of 20 Christie’s staff manning the telephones and internet bidding from around the world, helped to make tonight’s auction both successful and hugely memorable. The sale achieved $7.3 million over our pre-sale expectations and saw record numbers of clients registering to bid, with nearly 200 registrants from 23 countries. The 30 works from the Dr. Mohammed Said Farsi collection were again 100% sold and saw a huge increase in international interest in Egyptian art. We were delighted to see Mahmoud Said’s Whirling Dervishes sell for a world record $2,546,500 making it the most expensive Middle Eastern painting ever sold. Following the trend of the Frieze art sales in London two weeks ago, tonight’s auction here in Dubai had a tremendous spring in its step.”

Michael Jeha, Managing Director of Christie’s in the Middle East, said: “In one year Christie’s Dubai achieved a 117% increase in the sale of Contemporary Middle Eastern art. Tonight, pictures for this sale were consigned from 15 different countries and, as a measure of the international interest in Middle Eastern art, they have been dispersed among buyers from 18 different countries. It is this diversity of consigning and buying that has helped to develop this market so quickly, transforming from a local to a regional and global force in just four years. ”

The evening’s highlight was the sale of masterpieces of Egyptian art collected by one of the greatest patrons of Middle Eastern art, Dr. Mohammed Said Farsi, which realised $6,731,750. The Whirling Dervishes, 1929, a spectacular early work by Mahmoud Said sold for $2,546,500 against a pre-sale estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. The work surpassed the recently established world auction record for the artist by $100,000 (previous record: Christies Dubai, April 2010 for Les Chadoufs at $2.4 million). The final part of the Farsi collection to come to auction, a group of 40 works by Egyptian artists, will be offered at Christie’s in Paris on 9 November, 2010.

The highlight among the Iranian Art was a large oil on canvas triptych by the leading artist Mohammed Ehsai (b. 1939) which sold for $662,500 / AED 2,432,700. Entitled Banquet and painted in 2009, the monochrome black and white design reflects his fascination with calligraphy and was estimated at $350,000-500,000. Afshin Pirhashemi’s (b. 1974) Seduction, exploring the complexities of life in today’s Iran, reached $518,500 / AED 1,903,932 against a pre-sale estimate of $80,000-120,000 and Farhad Moshiri’s (b. 1963), Love, a rare example from early in his Jars series, sold for $422,500 / AED1,551,420 (estimate: $150,000-250,000).

Eight works by the Syrian Artist Fateh Moudarres (1922-1999) including Untitled from circa 1970, which sold for $374,500 / AED1,375,164 (estimate: $140,000-180,000) and established a new world auction record for the artist. Another Syrian highlight which saw strong bidding was for The Ice Cream Seller by Louay Kayyali (1934-1978), depicting a young boy from a dispossessed working-class, a theme the artist was best-known for, was bought for $98,500 / AED361,692.

Strong prices were established for Lebanese Art when two works by Paul Guiragossian were offered. La Foule, 1987, was knocked down at $110,500 / AED405,756 (estimate: 100,000-130,000) and the artist’s Claire Obscure sold for a new auction record price at $242,500 / AED890,460.

Turkish Art was strongly represented throughout the sale and the top price was achieved for Fahrelnissa Zeid’s (Turkish / Jordanian 1900-1991) exuberant Dervishes, painted circa 1950s. Estimated at $80,000-100,000 it was sold for $158,500 / AED 582,012. A panoramic view of Istanbul by Devrim Erbil (b.1937) inspired by the jewel-like illustrations of the city by the 16th century Turkish artist Matrakci Nasuh, made $116,500 / AED427,788, a new world auction record for the artist.

Christie’s Dubai October season concludes tomorrow evening, October 27th, with the sale of Jewellery and Watches.

Christie's | Jussi Pylkkänen | Dubai |

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