Pieces of ‘The Lady’
Jewelry and watches belonging to the legendary Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum went under the hammer on Tuesday in Dubai.
April 29, 2009 1:59 by Dana El Baltaji
A Christie’s auction of jewelry and other personal items belonging to Egypt’s legendary Umm Kulthum was held in Dubai on Tuesday, reports Zawya Dow Jones. Included in the sale is a cultured pearl and paste festoon brooch given to the singer by the late Shah of Iran, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, which sold for $30,000.
Umm Kalthoum is widely regarded as the one of the Arab world’s most distinguished and influential singers. Born in 1904 into a poor family, Umm Kulthum was taught religious songs by her father, an Imam in a mosque. At the age of 12, he disguised his daughter as a boy and entered her in a performing troupe.
At the age of 16, she was noticed by a mildly successful Arab singer, Abol Ela Mohamed, and was soon recognized as one of Egypt’s greatest talents.
Her death in 1975 prompted Egypt’s second largest funeral gathering (after that of President Gamal Abdel Nasser); over four million mourners congregated in the Cairo, Egypt to pay their respects to ‘The Lady’, a term former French President Charles de Gaulle used to describe the singer.
Most of Umm Kalthoum’s belongings Christie’s Jewels and Watches Dubai Sale were bought by wealthy Middle Eastern businessmen who wished to remain anonymous.
In addition to the singer’s jewelry and watches, Christie’s auction featured 120 lots, netting a total of a $4 million. Of the 46 watches on sale, the highest netting lot was a platinum manually-wound tourbillion wristwatch by A. Lange & Söhne, which sold for $146,500 (AED538,124).
“Buying was selective but nearly three-quarters of the value of the sale was bought by Middle Eastern buyers, an encouraging sign of the developing jewelry and watch market in the region,” said David Warren, director of jewelry for Christie’s Middle East.
Middle Eastern buyers at Christie’s auctions have increased by 400 percent since 2004.