ABU DHABI // The largest exhibition of international masterpieces ever to be shown in the Middle East opened yesterday in Abu Dhabi. Christie's Best of the Best exhibition is a collection of the most exclusive lots from forthcoming auctions all over the world and it marks the opening of Christie's fifth auction season in the region. Jussi Pylkkanen, the president of Christie's Europe, said: "This exhibition is pushing the door open to an interesting world. It is all part of Abu Dhabi rapidly becoming an international art centre."
"We have seen sales jump by 400 per cent in the Middle East since we opened our office in Dubai in 2005. That is a faster growth than anywhere [else] in the world," said Mr Pylkkanen. The auction house was invited to set up in the capital by Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and the Tourism Development and Investment Company. The exhibition is being held under his patronage.
It will be open to the public for two days at the Emirates Palace hotel. Visitors will be able to try on the watches and jewellery which in total are worth more than US$100 million. In addition they will be able to view 17 pieces from private collectors across the Middle East, including the bronze sculpture, Girl Pouring Water, by the Egyptian artist Mahmoud Mokhtar. It belongs to the Minister of Culture, Abdul al Owais.
This pre-auction show is the first of its kind in Abu Dhabi but Christie's has plans for more in the future. Mr Pylkkanen said: "We are working together to establish a sustainable long-term relationship. We hope to visit Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait and continue to open the dialogue for art all across the Middle East." firstname.lastname@example.org