Middle Eastern artwork sold for more than $14 million this week in Dubai, exceeding the $8.5 million estimate set by auction house Christie’s.
The auction of modern and contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish art amassed the highest sales in its category since 2010, Christie’s said.
“Bergère à Alamein,” completed in 1951 by Egyptian Mahmoud Said, sold for $869,000, the most expensive purchase at the event. His “Après la pluie, au Liban” came second at $701,000.
“Demand was high for all the works that the Christie’s experts selected for this curated sale,” said Michael Jeha, managing director of Christie’s Middle East.
Bidding came from international and regional collectors, who competed “fiercely on the telephone, in the room and online,” he added.
“Tonight’s sale truly reaffirmed the international appeal of the best Middle Eastern art.”
Two artists broke personal records at the auction. Egyptian Hamed Ewais’s “Al-Zaim w Ta’mim al-Canal,” completed in 1957, sold for more than $550,000, while Lebanese Shafic Abboud’s “Histories” sold for $389,000.
The lots, which belonged to “eight important family collections,” are part of a series of modern and contemporary art that has been auctioned at Christie’s since the start of its operations in the Middle East in 2006, a specialist at the auction house said.
Parallel to the Dubai sale, there is an online auction running between Oct.16-30. More than half of the 63 lots on sale are by Egyptian artists.
“We can’t talk art and not have art from Egypt,” Hala al-Khayat, a specialist at Christie’s, told Al Arabiya News.
Egypt has exported the largest collection of contemporary Arab art since 1901, she said.
Twenty-five of the lots in the online auction come from the private collection of Mohamed Said Farsi, mayor of the Saudi city of Jeddah in 1972.
Farsi “was keen on collecting artwork, and lived for a while in Egypt and acquired important artworks by Egyptian artists,” Khayat said.
Farsi established friendships with some of the artists from whom he fed his personal collection throughout the 1950s, she added.