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The CÚzanne effect

Political power in the Arab world has been rewritten in the past year. Are the world's art markets next?

The globalisation of the art world has been one of the major shifts east of the 21st century. Paris, London and New York still house the world's most august collections of paintings, but from Shanghai to Mumbai, newly minted millionaires are changing the market.

The latest sign of this shift came last week when the Qatar government paid a record $250 million (Dh918 million) to acquire one of the world's most sought after paintings: The Card Players by Paul CÚzanne, one in a series of five works depicting French peasants playing cards. The 1893 painting was bought from Greek tycoon George Embiricos, who had refused to part with this prized possession for years.

The record price signals another change towards an increasinly lucrative market in fine art. And it is not the first high-profile painting to make its way to Qatar. The CÚzanne is expected to be displayed at the Qatar National Museum, where paintings by Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Mark Rothko are already on show.

Art museums slated for Abu Dhabi in the near future will continue this trend. The real shift, however, will be when not just consumers but top-tier artists as well are found in this part of the world.

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