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Sotheby's First-Ever Evening Sale of Islamic Art Realises £7 Million - Well Above Pre-Sale Expectations
The manuscript’s opening double-page frontispiece shows distinctive stylistic characteristics decorated in yellow, orange and green. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Sotheby’s first-ever Evening Sale of Islamic Art, A Princely Collection: Treasures from the Islamic World, tonight realised the remarkable total of £7,070,550, against a pre-sale estimate of £3.4-4.8 million, and established strong sell-through rates by lot and value of 96% and 88% respectively. Of the lots sold, 75% achieved sums in excess of their pre-sale high estimates.

Commenting on the results, Edward Gibbs, Senior Director and Head of Sotheby’s Middle East Department, said: “Tonight’s auction of Islamic Art – the first Evening Sale in this collecting category ever to be staged – represents a landmark moment for the field. These extraordinary results are confirmation of the discerning eye of the collector who assembled this collection of rare and high quality works of art, and also reflect the strength of this market and the ever-growing demand for desirable artefacts relating to the Islamic world.”

Headlining this evening’s auction was the sale of a rare and important Abbasid lustre pottery bowl, dating to the second-half of the 9th century, which was the subject of intense competition. The bowl, which displays a sparse and striking stylised foliate pattern reminiscent of the tilework in the Great Mosque of Qairawan in Tunisia realised the extraordinary sum of £713,250, and sold to an anonymous telephone bidder for almost four times the low estimate (lot 60, est.: £200,000-300,000).

Another important highlight of this evening’s auction was a large Qur'an Leaf In Gold Kufic Script On Blue Vellum, from the famous “Blue Qur’an” produced in North Africa or the Near East in the 9th-10th century, which saw interest from four potential buyers who battled for this breathtakingly opulent Kufic script from the early centuries of Islam. After almost four minutes of intense bidding, the exceptional Qur’an Leaf was acquired by a buyer on the telephone for £529,250, more than double the low estimate for the lot (lot 7, est. £200,000-300,000).

A further highlight of the sale was an important Tafsir Al-Qur’an probably made for Shah Tahmasp, copied by Kamal Al-Din Husain at Mecca, dated 955AD/1548-9AD. The illuminated Persian manuscript on paper sold to an anonymous buyer on the telephone for the sum of £601,250, three times more than its low estimate (lot 28, est. £200,000-250,000), becoming the second-highest value item in last evening’s sale.

Additional top-selling lots include:

• A large and rare Spanish Umayyad pottery storage vessel, late 10th-11th century, brought £325,250 (lot 72, est. £60,000-80,000).

• A large and lavish Qur'an attributable to Ruzbihan Muhammad, Persia, Safavid, probably Shiraz, early 16th century, realised £313,250 (lot 26, est. £100,000-120,000).

• A large and important dated Kashan lustre dish, Persia, 1194 made £301,250 (lot 76, est. £80,000-100,000).

Sotheby's | Sale of Islamic Art | Edward Gibbs |

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