Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 23 May 2019

George Michael's art collection goes for Dh55 million in auction

Money raised from the late singer's belongings will go towards his philanthropic ventures

A collection of contemporary art once owned by singer George Michael, including works by Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, has been sold for £11.3 million (D55.2 million), Christie's auction house said.

Michael was a keen collector of works by the Young British Art movement and developed friendships with many of the artists, visiting their galleries and studios.

Christie's billed the sale of more than 200 works as a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" for fans of the tradition-defying movement from the 1980s and 1990s.

The Incomplete Truth, a 2006 work by Hirst consisting of a dove preserved in formaldehyde, sold for £911,250 (Dh4.45m) - below its estimated price of £1-1.5 million.

''Fastlove' is the perfect tribute to George Michael. EPA
More than 200 pieces from singer George Michael's private art collection went under the hammer. EPA

Bridget Riley's 1982 painting Songbird, the first major work Michael acquired according to Christie's, fetched £791,250 (Dh3.87m), while Hurricane, a 2007 work by Emin, sold for £431,250 (Dh2.1m).

Proceeds of the auction will go towards Michael's various philanthropic ventures, the auctioneers said.

The collection was previously described by Cristian Albu, co-head of postwar and contemporary art at Christie's, as "a portrait of Britain in the 1990s".

He said Michael wanted "to celebrate a time in which new life was breathed into London", and began buying works by artists who became personal friends.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: A staff member poses with commissioned portrait by Michael Craig-Martin as Christie's presents an exhibition of works from it's upcoming George Michael Collection Highlights at Christie's on March 08, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)
A Christie's staff member poses with commissioned portrait by Michael Craig-Martin. Getty Images

"He was introduced to Tracey Emin and from then everything is history," Albu said. "Tracey introduced him to the whole gang ... He was going to their studios and they were coming to his concerts."

The singer died of heart and liver problems on December 25, 2016 at the age of 53.

His art collection was subsequently exhibited around the world, including New York and Shanghai, before the auction. Stand-out works were sold at Christie’s London headquarters, with some also going under the hammer as part of an online auction

During his career, both with Wham! and later as a solo artist, Michael sold more than 100 million records and had a string of massive hits between 1983 and 1996.

Among his biggest hits were Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go, Last Christmas and Faith.

Updated: March 16, 2019 10:10 AM

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