Dubai – MENA Herald: This March Christie’s will celebrate its 10th anniversary and its 20th sale season at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel in the heart of Dubai. By establishing and committing to providing a platform to promote Middle Eastern art to a global audience, Christie’s is delighted to have played our part in nurturing this now well established market. Christie’s has always innovated its sale to best suit collectors and this year, as part of the 10th anniversary celebrations, we are holding a new sale, Element of Style, which will offer for the first time in the Middle East the offering of 60 handbags from Chanel to Hermès as well as a large selection of luxury items such as exquisite watches for ladies and men, a fine selection of limited edition fountain pens by Montblanc and revisited vintage trunks and luggage pieces from Louis Vuitton. The traditional painting sale will celebrate the best of Middle Eastern art by integrating a 40 lot strong section entitled NOW AND TEN. The Important Watches sale will open the 20th sale season by offering an array of vintage, special edition and contemporary timepieces.
CHRISTIE’S IN THE MIDDLE EAST
It all started back in May 2004, when Christie’s was invited to conduct the Gulf’s first art-meets-charity gala auction for “Camel Caravan”, under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. That night, 39 painted model camels were sold and raised $1.3 million /AED4.8 million for different charities, one of the highest amount raised at any charity event held in the region.
It was at this event that the Christie’s management team understood the need to expand its 240 year old business into this fast evolving region and within a year a representative office was opened – the first of any international auction house in early April 2005. TO mark the event an international highlight exhibition was organized, the first in the region.
On 24 May 2006 at 7.00pm Dubai held its first art auction in the Middle East, when Jussi Pylkkänen, now Christie’s Global President, stepped onto the rostrum and opened the auction by announcing lot 1 a painting by Shakir Hassan Al-Said (Iraq, 1925-2004), entitled The Peasant, which sold for three times its low estimate. 128 lots followed, and the auction totalled $8.5 million with 53 new world records set for artists at auction. In every sale since, the support from artists and collectors from around the region and the rest of the world has ensured the auctions remained an important marker in the global art calendar. Since the first sale, Christie’s maintained market leadership in Middle Eastern art.
Jussi Pylkkänen, Global President Christie’s remembers: “I clearly remember the moment just before our first auction in Dubai…..we all knew it was a risk. At the time there were only a handful of galleries in Dubai, none of the great Museums had been envisaged, we were even unsure if the auction concept and the bidding process would be embraced by our new clients. But what we did have was great art and that is always the secret wherever we do business. It is a great tribute to Dubai, the UAE, to the government bodies, collectors, fairs, gallerists and most importantly the artists, that we have collectively built a market that back in 2006 when I stepped into the rostrum, I could only have dreamt of.”
Over the past 10 years the regions cultural scene has flourished and by committing to regular sale seasons and investing in a team of local specialists and a senior management based in Dubai alongside a network of regional consultants throughout the Middle East, Christie’s has helped to nurture and grow what is now a truly international market place.
THE 20TH SALE SEASON
The 20th sale season will be running from 15-17 March with a public preview exhibition starting on Sunday 13 March 2016. The exhibition and sales will be held once again at the Godolphin Ballroom at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel. As the Christie’s sale season coincides with Art Dubai, we have decided to swap the auctions around and will begin the season with the Important Watches sale on Tuesday 15 March, followed by the Modern and Contemporary Art sale the next evening and succeeding with the new sale Element of Style auction to conclude the 20th sale season on 17 March 2016.
16 March / Dubai Modern and Contemporary Art / NOW AND TEN
NOW AND TEN will be marking the decade of trading with art from the region by presenting a highly curated section, offering the best 40 works by leading Middle Eastern artist from private collections to be found in the market. The entire art auction on 16 March will be offering a total of 125 strictly selected works of art to endorse the artistic talents of the region. At the same time this reduced offering bears the highest pre-sale estimate of $8.5-12.0 million for the past 10 years, an indication of the strong developments of the regional art market as well as an evaluation of the international appreciation of art from the Middle East.
The 40 lots offered in the section NOW AND TEN will be highlighted by a nearly 11 meter long and 3m high triptych, entitled Sarajevo by Omar El-Nagdi (Egyptian, b. 1931, illustrated above), painted in April 1992. A museum-masterpiece, Sarajevo, became part of the prestigious collection of Her Excellency Ambassador Francine Henrich in 1993 and is offered for the first time at auction with a pre-sale estimate of $400,000-600,000.
The Sarajevo triptych is undeniably the most important and the most ambitious work produced by El-Nagdi in terms of complexity, monumentality, expression and subject matter. El-Nagdi, a Egyptian painter represents the slaughter of his Bosniak brothers in Sarajevo on the traditionally Christian format of the triptych, a theme that no other artist has ever dared to paint on such a vast scale. El-Nagdi’s Sarajevo is without doubt one of the most poignant depiction of the horrors of war ever painted since 1937, when Pablo Picasso realized his iconic piece Guernica.
Café de Verre, Café Hajj Daoud, Café Palestine, Café Al Bahrein by Shafic Abboud (Lebanese, 1926-2004) is comprised out of 130 individually painted tempera on panels in 1990, all payimg tribute to the ‘cafés engloutis’ of Abboud’s beloved city, Beirut. Coming directly from the artist’s estate, these temperas used to hang on the wall of the artist’s own bedroom in his Parisian apartment where lived from 1977 until his death in 2004.
Literally translated as the ‘engulfed cafes’, the ‘cafes engloutis’ refer to the vanishing café-culture that had been widely popular in the Arab world in the 1950s and 1960s. These cafes were ‘engulfed’ by the civil war that broke out in 1975 and the café-culture slowly disappeared and with it the effervescent intellectual, political and artistic circles that had emerged from these cafes and that were at the core of Modern Lebanese art and literature (estimate $300,000-400,000).
17 MARCH ELEMENT OF STYLE
Christie’s has carefully curated a collection of rare handbags, jewels, watches, and objects of lifestyle, with a total of 150 lots from around the world for discerning collectors who aspire to artistic and exquisite life style. The sale will offer 60 handbags – to be offered for the first time at auction in Dubai – as well as jewellery, ladies watches, limited edition fountain pens by Montblanc and vintage trunks and luggage pieces by Louis Vuitton, all lots fitted for a lifestyle moment.
Over the past three years Christie’s Dubai witnessed an ever growing interested in Ladies watches and observed the strong results achieved in our Hong Kong sale room for vintage handbags over the past two years. By combining the two and adding some other lifestyle goods, the “Element of Style” sale concept was invented and will commemorate the 20th sale season. The Christie’s Handbags & Accessories category offers unprecedented, one-of-a-kind pieces to exceptional vintage items of the highest quality, focusing on Hermès, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Celine. The June 2015 Hong Kong auction achieved several world auction records, including the most expensive handbag ever sold at auction, a Hermès Diamond Birkin, making Christie’s the leader in the Handbag Auction market.
15 MARCH IMPORTANT WATCHES
The six stand–alone Important Watches sale on 15 March will open the celebratory 20th sale season of Christie’s in Dubai. The auction will offer 176 lots and combined with the 60 watches in the “Element of Style” auction on 17 March, it represents the largest offering of watches at auction in the Middle East. The Middle Eastern market for unique and exceptional watches has been flourishing over the past decades and throughout our past sales we have witnessed a 50% progression of collectors participating in our auctions. Middle Eastern collectors are looking for quality watches with a progressing shift towards vintage timepieces.
The sale will again offer watches from $2000 to $200,000 to encourage young and established collectors to enjoy our preview and to find the next watch to enter their collections. Geneva sale highlights will also be on view in Dubai.