Christie’s second “International Modern and Contemporary Art” auction in Dubai (1 February), made $9.4m, (est $8m). The sale of 190 lots by Arab, Iranian, Indian and western artists sold 92% by lot and 86% by value, with 39% of buyers based in the United Arab Emirates. Combined with its sale of jewellery and watches in the emirate, the two auctions made $21.2m.
Christie’s flew 40 staff over for the auctions, and again put on a slick show at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers. But the new market for Arab and Iranian art shows some signs of settling, with fewer spectacular hammer prices than at Christie’s first sale in May 2006. Still, a core group of Arab modern masters—long popular among Lebanese collectors—is emerging, with Dia Al-Azzawi, Paul Guiragossian and Chafic Abboud doubling their estimates.
There was also strong interest in Iranian modern and contemporary art. Contemporary photography by Abbas Kiarostami, Shirin Neshat and Shadi Ghadirian performed strongly, and works by modern painters Massoud Arabshahi, Mohammad Ehsai and Hossein Zenderoudi went for well above their estimates.
Jussi Pylkkanen, president of Christie’s Europe and the Middle East, described the Indian art section as “a safety net” before the sale. Artist M. F. Husain, a part-time UAE resident, was in the auction room to see his Untitled (Women and Horses), the top lot of the sale, go for $441,600.
As in the previous sale, the western art was less successful, with works by Sam Francis, Bridget Riley and Gary Hume going well within their estimates.
Warhol’s Dollar Sign was the only western work to perform well, selling for $216,000, against an estimate of $60,000-$80,000, to an international buyer bidding over the telephone.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Christie’s second sale makes $9.4m'