During the 1960s and 1970s, a Saudi art lover became an unlikely champion of modern Egyptian artists, snapping up pieces big and small and building what is believed to be the world's largest private collection of their work. Mohammed Said Farsi, who was one of the first of the kingdom's citizens to study abroad, earning a degree in architecture and town planning from the University of Alexandria, became mayor of Jeddah, and filled a garden in the city with sculptures by Joan Miró, Henry Moore, Hans Arp and Salah Abdulkarim, among others.
In April, the collector will put 25 works from his collection on public display in Dubai before they go on the auction block. They include Les Chadoufs, a 1934 painting by the late Egyptian artist Mahmoud Said. The auction will also feature works by Hamed Nada, Abdel Hadi El-Gazzar and Mahmoud Mokhtar. The website artdaily.org describes Les Chadoufs as "a spectacular early work" by Said, who lived from 1897 to 1964.
"Dr Farsi is renowned throughout the Middle East for his appreciation and promotion of the visual arts," said Jussi Pylkkanen, the president of Christie's Europe and Middle East, which will conduct the auction at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers. "This shines through in his own collection which represents the greatest group of modern Egyptian art in private hands." The pieces are expected to fetch between US$30,000 (Dh110,000) and $200,000 each, with Les Chadoufs at the high end of that range.