bonhams opens middle east office

Published October 30th, 2007 - 02:56 GMT

bonhams opens middle east office
International auction house identifies region as key fine art growth market


Bonhams, the international fine art auction house established in the UK since 1793, has opened its first Middle East sales office - demonstrating its commitment to the region and the growing importance of the market in the fine art world. Two Bonhams auction sales are envisaged per year, with the first set for Dubai in 2008.

“The Middle East is currently undergoing an art rennaissance, driven by regional collectors looking to enhance their privately owned residential and commercial properties,” said Matthew Girling, Bonhams European Chief Executive.

“We’ve identified this as a key growth area for ‘investments of passion’, an increasing trend in this market for collecting antiques, classic cars and fine art as alternative wealth investment opportunities.  We believe our strong heritage and leading position in the global art world will contribute to the continued rise in interest of regional buyers considering becoming collectors.”

Based in Jumeirah, Bonhams Dubai will initially be staffed by a local management team with support from Bonhams worldwide specialists. Bonhams Dubai is a joint venture with the locally-based Al Tajir family, who are renowned fine art and collectibles connoisseurs. His Excellency, Mohammed Mahdi Al Tajir, was the former United Arab Emirates Ambassador to Great Britain and Western Europe and is currently an advisor to HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahayan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi.

“The UAE is destined to become one of the world’s leading art markets, with visionary plans in place for the country to become the new international centre for the commercial art market,” commented HE Mohammed Mahdi Al Tajir.

“Our partnership marks a historical joining of forces between two prominent names on the global art stage, and the arrival of Bonhams in the Middle East will significantly enlarge and enrich the local blossoming cultural scene.”

The opening of Bonhams Dubai is a significant step in the company’s rapid global expansion as Bonhams is today one of the world’s largest and fastest growing auction houses. With 2006 worldwide gross sales of nearly $500 million, Bonhams is a clear number three in the global market - however the company is renowned for its nimble strategic and execution capabilities, and is attracting attention for its impact on larger competitors.

As the only major international auction business currently using trust accounts to safeguard client investments during the sales process, Bonhams is focused on building and maintaining client trust in both the art and business world.

“The emergence of new art buyers in the Middle East and the opening of our dedicated sales office in Dubai is an important part of our strategic decision to increase our international presence,” continued Girling.

“Our UAE business represents a springboard to a new client base across the region, with initial sales focusing on Islamic art, fine art, jewellery and ceramics with the intent to widen the scope as we track trends towards new tastes and regional interests.”

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