March auctions realized a total of $13,437,688 /AED49,343,190. The Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern Art sale held during the evening of the 18 March concluded Dubai Art Week and achieved a total of $8,079,375 /AED29,667,465; setting new world auction records for 18 artists, including Marwan Sahmarani (Lebanese, b. 1970), Nazir Nabaa (Syrian, 1941-2016), Mahmoud Sabri (Iraqi, 1927-2012) and Koorosh Shishegaran (Iranian, b. 1945). The Important Watches auction realized $5,358,313 / AED19,675,725, the highest total for any watch auction in the Middle East and set a record for the most expensive watch sold at auction in the region. The top lot of the sales were Mahmoud Saïds Assouan ile et dunes oil painting, accompanied by its preparatory oil sketch, selling for $685,500 / AED2,517,156 tripling its pre-sale estimate and for the watches the highest price of the evening was achieved for the Patek Philippe ref. 2499/100, manufactured in 1981, selling for just under $500,000. It is also the most expensive vintage watch sold at auction in the Middle East.
As ever the Dubai auction attracted interest from collectors around the globe from 22 countries and the top lots from the picture sale were bought by clients from Lebanon, Canada, UAE and UK. Christies dynamic and packed Middle Eastern sale room welcomed a very large number of registrants in the room, on the phone and via Christies Live of which 12% were new to Christies and 43% transacted via our real time online bidding platform Christies LIVE over the past two evening sales.
Michael Jeha, Managing Director Christies Middle East commented: Christie's reinforced its position as market leader in the region for the 12th consecutive year. The demand for top quality art remains extremely strong and the buyer base for Middle Eastern art continues to deepen and internationalize. There was fierce bidding in the room for the most established artists, with eighteen new auction records being set in the process.
Christie's was proud to launch the Mahmoud Said catalogue raisonné in Dubai this week, co-authored by our colleague Valerie Hess. The stellar performance of the selection of works by Mahmoud Said in the sale was further testimony to the growing international appreciation for this much loved and highly sought after artist. The appetite for watches in the region goes from strength to strength and it was particularly pleasing to see the watches auction deliver not only the most expensive watch ever sold at auction in Dubai, but also the highest ever sold total. The scale and depth of bidding in the sale, not only in the room, but on the phones and online was particularly impressive.
Christie's long term commitment to the Middle East remains unrivaled and we look forward to building on all that has been achieved to date.