• Press release
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  • For immediate release
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  • 25 October 2017

PRESS RELEASE: Christie’s First London-Based Middle Eastern Modern & Contemporary Art Evening Auction Builds On Dubai’s Success, Achieving £5,235,125 / $6,863,249 / €5,826,694

Jewad Selim, The Watermelon Seller, 1953, Price Realised: £668,750 / $876,731 / €744,319

London – Christie’s launched the marquee event ‘Middle Eastern Art’ with Middle Eastern Modern & Contemporary Art evening auction, which moved from Dubai to London this season and achieved a total of £5,235,125 / $6,863,249 / €5,826,694 with sell-through rates of 85% by lot and 88% by value. Registered bidders from 23 countries confirmed the international appetite for works from the region. The sale was led by a world auction record for the Iraqi artist Jewad Selim, whose painting The Watermelon Seller sold for £668,750 / $876,731 / €744,319, more than double its high estimate of £250,000. Egyptian artists were a focal point of the evening with the recognised master Mahmoud Saïd’s intimate portrait Hanem selling for £320,750 / $420,503 / €356,995 alongside his second version of La fille aux yeux verts (£175,000 / $229,425 / €194,775) while his reclining nude Nu au rideau gris completed the group (£93,750/ $122,906 / €104,344). A highlight was Mahmoud Sabri’s Grief, which sold for £668,750 / $876,731 / €744,319, more than ten times its high estimate of £60,000 and a new world auction record for the artist. A further record was secured for Shafic Abboud’s Chambre verticale 1; Chambre verticale 2; Chambre verticale 4 (Lebanon, £368,750 / $483,431 / €410,419. Top prices were also realised for Ramsès Younan (Egypt, £248,750 / $326,111 / €268,859), Parviz Tanavoli (Iran, £200,000 / $262,200 / €222,600) and Monir Farmanfarmaian who combines the traditional technique of glass mosaic and painting with a contemporary aesthetic (Iran, £112,500 / $147,488 / €125,213).

Michael Jeha, Managing Director, Deputy Chairman, Christie’s Middle East: “Holding our first Middle Eastern Modern and Contemporary Art Sale in London was an important next step in the recognition of the arts from the region, after conducting these auctions in Dubai for the past 11 years, where Christie’s was instrumental in founding the art market in the region. An increase in international bidding, alongside an amplified participation via our online bidding tool was observed. We continued to set new world auction records for artists from the Middle East, this time for Shafic Abboud, Mahmoud Sabri and Jewad Selim. The next Middle Eastern Art sale will take place during Dubai Art Week on Thursday 22 March 2018. This double strength platform for Middle Eastern Art will continue to develop international appreciation for artists from the region and underlines our regional commitment as well as the development of this category with collectors around the globe.”

The evening began with spirited bidding for artists across the region including Munira Al-Kazi (Kuwait, £15,000 / $19,665 / €16,695), Sami Rafi’s Untitled (Blue nude) (Egypt, £17,500 / $22,943 / €19,478) and Syrian artist Fateh Moudarres’s Portrait of Ghiath Al-Ghazi (i) & Portrait of Amal Al-Ghazi (ii), which doubled its low estimate of £30,000 to achieve £62,500 / $81,938 / €69,563. The Emirati artist Abdul Qader Al Rais donated two paintings, The Dream (£62,500 / $81,938 / €69,563) and Untitled (£62,500 / $81,938 / €69,563) with proceeds from the sale benefitting the Emirates Red Crescent Authority.

About Christie’s

Founded in 1766, Christie’s is a world-leading art and luxury business. Renowned and trusted for its expert live and online auctions, as well as its bespoke private sales, Christie’s offers a full portfolio of global services to its clients, including art appraisal, art financing, international real estate and education. Christie’s has a physical presence in 46 countries, throughout the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific, with flagship international sales hubs in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Geneva. It also is the only international auction house authorized to hold sales in mainland China (Shanghai).

Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvador Mundi, 2017), for a single collection sale (the Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller, 2018), and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019).

Christie’s Private Sales offers a seamless service for buying and selling art, jewellery and watches outside of the auction calendar, working exclusively with Christie’s specialists at a client’s individual pace.

Recent innovations at Christie’s include the groundbreaking sale of the first NFT for a digital work of art ever offered at a major auction house (Beeple’s Everydays, March 2021), with the unprecedented acceptance of cryptocurrency as a means of payment. As an industry leader in digital innovation, Christie’s also continues to pioneer new technologies that are redefining the business of art, including the creation of viewing and bidding experiences that integrate augmented reality, global livestreaming, buy-now channels, and hybrid sales formats. 

Christie’s is dedicated to advancing responsible culture throughout its business and communities worldwide, including achieving sustainability through net zero carbon emissions by 2030, and actively using its platform in the art world to amplify under-represented voices and support positive change.

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