Georgina Adam puts the changes in three major auction house’s Dubai strategy into context suggesting that the high hopes of turning Dubai into a fourth major sales center have faded:
After a number of specialists departed – Dalya Islam from Sotheby’s, William Lawrie from Christie’s and Charles Moore from Bonhams – Bonhams is throwing in the towel; it is not planning any more sales in the emirate in the foreseeable future. After a dire sale in April that was about 50 per cent unsold, Bonhams cancelled its September session and is believed to be closing its office: the firm’s press office would say only that it is “maintaining a representative in the region”.
And Christie’s has just announced that it is reworking its October Dubai sale by offering cheaper works to attract a wider range of buyers. Its Part I sale features such boldface names as Farhad Moshiri, Mahmoud Said and Parviz Tanavoli, and carries expectations of $6m for 45 lots. But the Part II sale will offer lower-priced works with estimates starting at $2,000, with 150 lots estimated at $6m. Christie’s man in the Middle East, Michael Jeda, explains that the new formula is intended to “introduce more variety into the sales and encourage a new generation to buy at auction”. Even if these top totals are reached, however, the firm is unlikely to better its performance in 2010, when, thanks to the collection of Saudi connoisseur Mohammed Said Farsi, it achieved a buoyant $29m for the year.
The Art Market: All in a Good Cause (Financial Times)