Going, going, gone: Mideast battles it out with the West over Orientalist art
Christie’s was the first international auction house to establish a special category for orientalist art back in 1998 with prices which have gone up over the past decade by at least 50% and as much as 100% for some paintings.
Sales of orientalist art at European auctions reached nearly 30 million Euros between 2009 and 2011 according to Christie’s while this year they’ve topped 2.5 million Euros.
Painting of the Sphinx at Giza from the 19th century is estimated to be worth between 50 and 70 thousand Euros. It is one of the orientalist paintings heating up the art market, with huge demand coming from Arab buyers.
Orientalist Art Christie’s International director Etienne Hellman said the competition between Middle Eastern and Westerner buyers is fascinating to observe.
“Orientalist sales are always very interesting because it’s very competitive bidding, the sales are very exciting, they’re never boring. You will have things estimated at between 200,000- 300,000 pounds or dollars that make one million, when people want something they’re really fight for it.”
Sotheby’s sold 12 million Euros worth of orientalist paintings this year, with one work going for nearly 4 million Euros, snapped up by an anonymous buyer for more than double its price estimate.
Whereas in a Paris auction in October of this year, the best sale was made at Sotheby’s on Orientalist art in five years.
The competition doesn’t end at private buyers only, but museums across the Middle East are also collecting this art genre “very aggressively”, said Sotheby’s Deputy Chairman Lord Mark.
“Doha is one of the great collectors, the Qataris, Abu Dhabi Louver is also a big collector of Orientalist art,” Mark added.
Orientalist art collector, Shafik Gaber, said he values his paintings.
“Each one of the paintings (is) an adventure,” said Gaber. “I find it a great experience to share this great art about these people who came, visited my part of the world, lived there, spent time, got to know the society, painted and took the paintings back to the west and I think it was a great way to looking at them as early Globalists.”
The average price range for works from top artists, like Deutsch or Gerome, range from 100 thousand Euros to about three million, with one record breaking painting selling for nearly 10 million Euros at auction.