Georgina Adam burrows into the details of the recent Gulf State sales by the two global auction houses to find the strengthening market there skewed by foreign buyers:
The first was Christie’s smallest ever sale in Dubai, on April 16. The estimate of up to $5.5m was topped with a total of $6.4m (presale estimates don’t include premiums but results do). The top lot was Farhad Moshiri’s “Secret Garden” (2009), which beat its $300,000-$500,000 estimate to make $987,750. The result puts Christie’s sales in the region back on an upward trend, and bettered the $5.8m it netted in October last year.
Apparently juicier was Sotheby’s sale of contemporary art – both international and Middle Eastern – held in Doha on April 22. This fetched $15.2m, towards the top end of expectations, and set the highest total for an auction of contemporary art in the region. The sell-through rate, at 89.1 per cent, was good, and nine new artist records were made, including $1.5m for the Egyptian Chant Avedissian’s 120-part “Icons of the Nile” (1991-2010), which went to a Middle Eastern collector.
However, a closer look reveals that most of the top lots had irrevocable bids on them, meaning they were effectively presold. This was the case for Avedissian’s work, a Damien Hirst medicine cabinet, which just made its low estimate at $485,000, and the highest priced work in the sale, Donald Judd’s “Untitled (Bernstein 90-01)” (1990), which sold for $3.5m. This was bought by a US dealer, as was Julie Mehrethu’s “Rising Down” (2008), at just over $3m. Apparently only two of the top 10 lots went to local buyers
The Art Market: First Nations Fire Warning Shots (Financial Times)