The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, by Abdulnasser Gharem, sold for $842,500 (AED 3,093,660) at Christie’s auction
Christie’s auction of Modern and Contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish Art totaled $7,980,875 / AED 29,305,773 and set 42 new world auction records for Middle Eastern artists. The highlight of the sale was when a group of 6 works from Edge of Arabia, were sold for $1,051,000 / AED 3,859,272, against a pre-sale estimate of around $135,000.
The money raised will enable the expansion of Edge of Arabia’s education programme and art workshops in Saudi Arabia’s schools and universities. A video about this success is available to download from the Christie’s website (see below for download details).
Applause was heard from the audience when the leading lot in the Edge of Arabia section, Message/ Messenger, a three-metre wide wood and copper dome symbolising the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem by Abdulnasser Gharem, sold for $842,500 / AED 3,093,660, more than ten times its original estimate. Five out of the six lots offered set new auction records for works by the artists but this was later rectified in the sale when Ayman Yossri Daydban’s Wasat Al Halaba, sold for $27,500 / AED 100,980, breaking the previous record.
Michael Jeha, Managing Director of Christie’s Middle East, commented: “ Records tumbled in a standing-room-only saleroom, reflecting the increasing international appeal and quality of art from the Middle East. We were delighted to add 42 records to the 318 already established by Christie’s sales in the Middle East since 2006. ”
Creative Director of Edge of Arabia, Abdullah Al-Turki: “We all wish to thank Christie's for providing an international platform which confirms that these works by Saudi artists can hold their weight as record-breaking pieces of contemporary art. The proceeds from the Edge of Arabia works sold tonight will go toward nurturing a new generation of artists and curators in Saudi Arabia.”
Aside from the Edge of Arabia group, the packed saleroom witnessed a new record for the Egyptian modern master Abdul Hadi El-Gazzar (1925-1965), one of the leading proponents of surrealism, when Fishing, sold for $746,500 / AED 2,741,148 (estimate: $250,000-350,000); an early wood sculpture of a figure by the Iraqi artist Jewad Selim (1921-1961) also set a record when it sold against many bidders for $662,500 / AED 2,432,700. Among the contemporary works an exceptional piece from the talented young Lebanese artist Ayman Baalbaki (b. 1975) Let A Thousand Flowers Bloom, was finally bought for $206,500 / AED 758,268 after a heated bidding battle against an estimate of $50,000-70,000.