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Sotheby's Doha Auction 'Hurouf: The Art of the Word' Realises Above High Estimate, Total of $5.6 Million
Night of Isra and Miraj by the artist Ahmed Moustafa, one of the most prominent works displayed, with an estimated value of 700,000 - 900,000 US, displayed along with other calligraphic works prior to an auction at Sotheby's in Doha, Qatar. AP Photo/Osama Faisal.

DOHA, QATAR Sotheby’s ‘Hurouf: The Art of the Word’ Sale, the first-ever international auction entirely devoted to calligraphy, realised the outstanding total of $5,630,125 (QAR 20,500,765), in excess of the pre-sale high estimate of $5.5 million. The sale established sell-through rates of 72.5% by lot and 87.6% by value, and set 9 new records for artists at auction and benchmarks for 21 artists whose works have never before been offered in an international sale. 32% of the buyers were new to Sotheby’s.

Following the auction, Robin Woodhead, Chairman Sotheby’s International, commented: “This evening’s sale concludes a remarkable week in Qatar . The concept of this calligraphic auction was exceptionally well received when we announced the sale in June, and the momentum and enthusiasm generated grew as we exhibited highlights in London, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain with further events held in Beirut, Cairo and Kuwait, leading up to our pre-sale exhibition in Doha and culminating in this evening’s auction.”

Woodhead continued: “This past week we witnessed hundreds of visitors attend our private previews, public views, lectures and student tours, which concluded with our auction this evening. The lively saleroom was packed with almost 150 clients, who competed on both higher and lower value works. These results further indicate the cultural dynamism of Qatar , and its pivotal position in the rapidly expanding art scene of the MENA region.”

Discussing the results, Dalya Islam, Deputy Director of Sotheby’s Middle East Department and Head of Sale, said: “We are delighted with the results of tonight’s sale which established 9 new records for artists at auction including Ahmed Moustafa, Khaled Ben Slimane and Mounir Fatmi, and benchmark prices for 21 artists new to auction. The success of the auction is testament to the ambitious vision, range and scope of the works on offer leading to exceptionally strong prices for work in all categories, periods and media. The depth of bidding and buying was truly international, further reinforcing Doha ’s status as a cultural hub for the region. A remarkable 32 % of buyers were entirely new to Sotheby’s.”

Modern and Contemporary Auction Highlights:
• The top-selling work of this evening’s first-ever auction devoted to the theme of calligraphic art was Egyptian artist Ahmed Moustafa’s 2010 oil and watercolour on paper The Night Journey and Ascension. This work, measuring 240 by 148.5cm, realised the strong sum of $842,500 / QAR 3,067,764 (Est: $700,000-900,000), representing a new record for the artist at auction.

• No fewer than five bidders competed for Farhad Moshiri’s 2005 mixed media on canvas, 095TTV, and after five minutes of intense bidding the painting brought the outstanding price of $782,500 / QAR 2,849,288, over seven times pre-sale expectations (Est: $100,000-150,000).

• Untitled, a 1962 oil on canvas by Mohammad Ehsai sold above the high estimate of $350,000 for $554,500 / QAR 2,019,080, and Rachid Koraichi’s bronze Ahmed Ezaatar, brought $182,500/ QAR 664,530, against a low estimate of $180,000.

Top-Selling Early Islamic Works of Art:
• Highlighting the works from the traditional section of the sale was an important external curtain of the Holy Ka'ba door with the Tughra of the Ottoman Sultan Abdülmejid, Turkey, 18th century, which sold for $362,500 / QAR 1,319,958, above pre-sale expectations (Est: $200,000-300,000).

• A Concertina Form Asma Al-Husna,copied by Muhammad Bahir Bey, Ottoman Turkey, 1276 AH/1859AD, also performed very well, selling for $104,500 / QAR 380,512, above the top estimate (Est: $50,000-70,000), to a private Turkish buyer.

Sotheby's | Doha | Robin Woodhead | Hurouf: The Art of the Word | Dalya Islam |

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