A painting by Mahmoud Said set a record for a work of modern Arab art at
auction, securing a price of $2.43 million in Dubai last night
“Les Chadoufs” had a presale estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. The oil landscape, produced in 1934, was inspired by Egypt’s pharaonic and Islamic history. It was among 25 pieces sold by Christie’s International, part of a collection of several hundred works owned by a Saudi patron who amassed the largest grouping of modern Egyptian art.
The sale of contemporary and modern works raised a total of $8.7 million, the London-based auction house said, surpassing a presale total estimate of $1.7 million.
Mohammed Said Farsi, 75, mayor of the Red Sea port city of Jeddah from 1972 to 1986, commissioned artists including Joan Miro and Henry Moore to produce monumental sculptures for an open-air museum in the city. He also collected Egyptian artists privately.
The sale included five works by Said (1897-1964), who was considered the first modern Egyptian painter, said Christie’s.
“By looking at this collection, you get a really good sense of the total picture of Egyptian 20th-century art,” William Lawrie, a Dubai-based Christie’s expert on contemporary Arab and Iranian art, said in an interview before the sale. “It’s the first time that there’s been this single-owner collection” offered for auction.
An artist from Iran, Parviz Tanavoli, set a modern Middle Eastern record in April 2008 for Middle East art prices when he sold a sculpture, “The Wall (Oh, Persepolis),” for $2.84 million at a Christie’s auction in Dubai.
Another sculpture by Tanavoli, “Poet and Cage,” sold for $1.02 million at yesterday’s auction, marking only the second time the artist has broken through the $1 million mark.
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