The Al-Thani family that rules Qatar and collects art has been for some time within the art world rumored to be pursuing Christie’s. When the auction house named a new CEO recently, it was assumed talks with the Qatar Investment Authority had stalled. Now the Sheikh Hamad, the Emir of Qatar, has made a very public “bid” in the Financial Times (update: see Christie’s non-denial denial at the bottom of the post):
FT: You are going to London next week and a lot of people will be watching to see which assets you might still be interested in buying. Are you looking at anything specific in London at this time?
SH: The question could be in London or any place. We are searching for good opportunities. And London, as I told you, real estate is the best.
FT: But Qatar has also been buying trophy assets; you like big names like Harrods.
SH: No. If we were going to search for big names why would we go into other countries that are not big names? We are investing everywhere. But of course, if we would have a good opportunity with a good name, so be it.
FT: Like Christie’s, the auction house, are you thinking about bidding for that?
SH: Christie’s, yes, I think we are, because we are building a museum and it has links with the stuff we are collecting for our museum.
FT: Have you made a bid?
SH: Not yet.
FT: But you are you thinking about it?
SH: It depends on the opportunity. If we had a good opportunity we would not hesitate. But thank you for reminding me about Christie’s!
FT: You need a willing seller.
SH: Yes, exactly.
FT: You don’t know yet if you have a willing seller?
SH: For now I don’t know.
A Christie’s PR representative has already responded but not with sufficient force to put the issue to bed:
“There are no discussions going on and Christie’s will remain in the private ownership that they are in at the moment,” Alexandra Kinderman, senior public relations director, Christie’s Europe, Russia and Middle East, told Arabian Business.
Interview transcript: Qatar’s Sheikh Hamad (Financial Times)
Christie’s denies Qatar buyout talks (Arabian Business)