Sotheby’s Middle Eastern art week comes to a successful close in London
Sotheby’s Orientalist and Middle Eastern Art Week in London came to a close last week with several artist records set and an increase of buyers from the MENA region of 23%.
Last month, several of the top lots were on display in Dubai to mark the opening of Sotheby’s new office and gallery space in DIFC. Of those, the top lot of the sale was the six metre long Towards A Sky, by Fahrelnissa Zeid. The sprawling abstract, geometric work sold for US$1,271,216 (approx. Dh4.4m), which is notable ahead of the artist’s retrospective opening at the Tate Modern in June. One of the most influential female Turkish artists, Zeid kept a photograph of this painting in a frame at her bedside until she passed away and this was the first time that it had appeared on the market since it was last exhibited in 1957.
A rare work by one of Iran’s greatest modern masters Bahman Mohasses tripled the artist’s world record at auction selling for US$748,772 (approx. Dh2.7m) and the auction also saw a record for pioneering female figure of Iraqi modernism Madiha Omar, as The Flying Saucers, from 1958 sold for US$48,019 (Dh176,000). The stunning portrait by Mahmoud Said’s Portrait de Mme. Batanouni Bey was acquired for the collection of the soon to be opened Halim Museum of Time & Glass in Chicago selling for US$502,916 (approx. Dh1.8m)
Edward Gibbs, Sotheby’s Middle East & India Chairman, said: “Our London auctions of Middle Eastern art continue to go from strength to strength, presenting an array of extraordinary artworks and objects of exceptional quality and rarity. There was strong private and institutional interest throughout, with museums buying in each of the three sales – a true reflection of the historical importance of the lots on offer. These were our first auctions following the opening of Sotheby’s Dubai, where we showcased many of the highlights, and we are delighted that the series has exceeded expectations, bolstered by a 23% increase in buyers from the MENA region.”
In other sales, The Arts of the Islamic World auction brought in an above-estimate total with pieces such as rare Ottoman textiles and an ancient astrolabe from Muslim Spain. For the Orientalist Sale, pieces from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were snapped up by collectors from all over the world.