Bonhams Toughs It Out in the Gulf

Bonham’s is forging ahead in the Gulf hoping to survive the downturn, according to Dow Jones:

The emergent Middle East art market, once crucial for international auction houses facing falling sales elsewhere, is amongst the hardest hit globally, with prices slumping by more than half, according to Bonhams. “The impact of financial crisis has been much worse here than in Europe and the U.S. as the crust of collectors is much thinner and the art market is very new,” Matthew Girling, Bonhams’ regional chief executive, told Zawya Dow Jones in a recent interview. “There has been at least a 50% drop in prices.” […]

“The last thing the art market in this region was a downturn and it’s been very hard to withstand a knock like that,” Girling said. […] Girling says the Bonhams sale of predominantly Iranian, Arab and Pakistani contemporary art on Oct. 12 will “test the waters” for appetite in the region. With the pre-auction estimate at a modest $1.5 million to $2 million for the 100 pieces up for sale, Girling says there are plenty of opportunities for bargain hunters. “Sellers have had to reduce their expectations,” he said. “The huge prices we once saw won’t come around again quickly.” […] Girling said that amid the downturn, Bonhams’ plans to expand elsewhere in the Gulf region are currently on hold. “Our main focus at the moment is being able to stay in Dubai,” he said.

Mideast Art Prices Slump 50% in Downturn–Bonhams (Dow Jones)