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A matter of art

A matter of art

Christie’s is auctioning contemporary Middle Eastern art in Dubai tonight. Is this a case of yet another foreign name boosting Dubai’s image, or will the local art industry benefit from the auction?


October 30, 2008 12:27 by

Christie’s is making headlines again. It’s fifth “Jewelry and Watches” and “International Modern and Contemporary Art” auctions, which Christie’s hosts in Dubai every six months, opened yesterday.
Who can think of art at a time like this, you ask? Plenty of people. In spite of all the negative financial news, Middle Eastern collectors are still buying. Christie’s “Jewels and Watches” auction, which included vintage Cartier and antique Indian jewels, realized AED 30 million. The investors were mostly regional.
In a statement released by the auction house, David Warren, director and head of jewelry said “the jewelry market is solid […]. Prices are finding new levels and are still higher than they were two years ago.”
This evening, works by Iranian, Emirati, Syrian and other Arab nationals are going under the hammer at Emirates Towers, Dubai. The “International Modern and Contemporary Art” is expected to bring in between $12 million and $18 million.
For Christie’s the region has been a goldmine. In April 2008, the auction house realized more than $40 million for its fourth “International Modern and Contemporary Art” and “Jewelry and Watches” auction, 32 percent higher than October 2007’s amount. The numbers prove what the art world already knows: emerging markets, rather than established ones, are very lucrative.
In the introduction of ArtTactic’s study of the region’s art industry it said, “Middle Eastern modern art has long been neglected and lacked proper marketing and representation. The entrance of international auction houses has finally given the region a platform in which to test and establish new prices.”
The report also recognized the importance royals in the region play in making the art industry lucrative: “The direct backing of the government and royal families is an important factor in the current development of the Middle East art market.”

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