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SHIFTING GEARS? Why Dubai’s “booming” art market needs to change its strategy

art dubai

Dubai has discovered there really are some things money can't buy.


June 14, 2012 5:35 by

“It was a false dawn, if you like to call it that,” Girling recalled.


Christie’s, which continues to have a presence in Dubai, held its 12th auction in April but revenues are nowhere near the $20 million seen in 2008. The highest since then for a regular auction was $7.9 million in April last year.


For Bonhams, shrinking revenues paved the way for an exit.


“I realised if we stayed in Dubai we’d be hit more than we would in London,” said Girling, who took the decision to shrink operations to a liaison office last year. “We’ve got clients all around the world and a lot of them travel. You don’t necessarily have to put the auction in Dubai to reach out to them.”




What is exciting to art experts is the steady growth in numbers and influence of collectors from the Middle East, and the increasing participation of younger buyers.


Figures show that Middle Eastern collectors are increasingly becoming more influential players in the global art market, no matter where they are based, however.


Middle Eastern clients accounted for 8 percent of Christie’s global auction turnover in 2011, the auction house said, up from 5 percent in 2010.


“Half the time I’m here and half the time I’m in London,” one Middle Eastern art collector who takes part in Christie’s auctions told Reuters in Dubai.


“But I see more and more young people here, starting with more affordable pieces, educating themselves and trying to be a part of this thing,” he said.


“I do find it exciting.”

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