This March Christies
celebrates its 10th auction anniversary in Dubai. By establishing and committing to providing a platform to promote nearly 700 Middle Eastern artists to a global audience, by offering over 2,650 works of art, Christies has played their part in nurturing this now well established market. Furthermore, they offered over the same period of time more than 2,000 watches and pieces of jewellery, attracting buyers from all over the world buyers from up to 30 different countries are participating in their sales. Christies is holding a 70% market share for Middle Eastern Art and is leading the market since 10 years.
Christies endeavor with the Middle East started back in May 2004, when the firm was invited to conduct the Gulfs first art-meets-charity gala auction Camel Caravan. It was at this event that the Christies management team understood the need to expand its 240 year old business into this fast evolving region and within a year a representative office was opened the first of any international auction house, in early April 2005. On 24 May 2006 at 7.00pm Christies Dubai held its first art auction in the Middle East, when Jussi Pylkkänen, now Christies Global President, stepped onto the rostrum and opened the auction by announcing lot 1, a painting by Shakir Hassan Al-Said (Iraq, 1925-2004), entitled The Peasant, which sold for three times its low estimate. 128 lots followed, and the auction totalled $8.5 million with 53 new world records set for artists at auction the highest ever! Since this first sale, another 350 artist records have been broken and Christies maintained market leadership in the Middle East as well as for Middle Eastern art.
On 31 January 2007 Christies introduced a second sale Contemporary Jewels and Watches in Dubai, which started very successfully and one major highlight was offered in April of the following year The Umm Kulthum necklace made of 9 rows of Indian natural pearls sold for $1.4 million. This 4th sale season also set the still to-date valid records for any work of art sold in Dubai, when Parviz Tanavoli, The Wall (Oh Persopolis) sold for $2.8 million
Throughout 2010 Christies sold the first collection of Middle Eastern art at auction, assembled by Dr. Mohammed Said Farsi collection and selling 100%, totalling $15.4 million, the Farsi collection is still the highest selling private collection offered at auction in the Middle East. This sale has triggered off an increased offering from private consignors which can represent up to 90% in the latest sales. This development underlines the importance of Dubai as an established trading place for the best Middle Eastern art, where also international collectors search constantly for the next discovery sales are sold 45% to international and 55% to Middle Eastern collectors.
It all started with a charity sale and throughout the sale seasons Christies landed its support to many different charities but in April 2011 Edge of Arabia consigned six works to benefit their project We need to talk. The group of works was expected to raise around $150,000, but the final combined selling total was just over $1 million and Abdulnasser Gharem became the most expensive Arab living artist at auction.
In October 2013 the first stand-alone watch auction in the region took place and only one and a half years later the ever first mixed owner watch auction achieved a 100% sold rate worldwide.
Apart from auctions Christies brought highlights of international sales to Dubai, such as the Elizabeth Taylor Jewels in October 2011; did book launches such Contemporary Iranian Art new perspective by Dr Hamid Keshmirshekan or the artist Nja Mahdaoui creating a work of art during our April 2012 preview; special curated exhibitions of Middle Eastern Art were realized by Christies to showcase the artistic importance of the region to a wider public; and lately Christies partnered with Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons for the inaugural Dubai Watch Week, last October.
Over the past 10 years the regions cultural scene has flourished and by committing to regular sale seasons and investing in a team of local specialists and a senior management based in Dubai alongside a network of regional consultants throughout the Middle East, Christies has helped to nurture and grow what is now a truly international market place.
Christies has always innovated its sale to best suit collectors and this year, as part of the 10th anniversary celebrations, they are holding a new and additional auction, Elements of Style, which will take place each March going forward.