Grotjahn at Gagosian

Solid Middle Eastern and Islamic Sales in London

Mark Grotjahn Shows New Work at Gagosian

The Wall Street Journal highlights Mark Grotjahn’s show of new paintings at Gagosian in New York that opens next week. The Journal is impressed by Grotjahn’s ability to work with four different galleries, including Gagosian, but still sell directly to collectors like Yusaku Maezawa. The new work is meant to be a departure for Grotjahn whose previous series of butterfly and face paintings were highly sought after. Some of his long-standing supporters were happy to lend their names to the story:

  • The Broad in Los Angeles is acquiring some of the “Free Capri” pieces. “There’s a sense of open-endedness and freedom that seem apparent in these paintings, though they still have the same rigorous sensuality about them,” says Joanne Heyler, the museum’s founding director


Sotheby’s Arts of the Islamic World & 20th Century Middle Eastern Art = £11.4m

Etel Adnan, Untitled (20-25k) £50k

The bulk of the week’s value was in Islamic art (and a piece of Iznik pottery, below) where Sotheby’s sale was £8.9m. But 20th Century Middle Eastern art contributed nearly £2.5m in sales to bring Sotheby’s week to £11.4m. That £2.5m was composed for 70% of the works exceeding the pre-sale estimates.

  • Mahmoud SabriJnazet (Funeral) from 1961 made £346,000 (£180,000-220,000).

  • Iranian artist Monir Farmanfarmaian’s Three Graces sold for £187,500 (£120,000-180,000)

  • Bahman Mohasses’ 1978 painting brought £162,500 (£80,000-120,000).

  • The sale set records for conceptual Emirati artist Mohammed Kazem, leading Emirati artist Hassan Sharif and Saudi modernist Abdulrahman Al Soliman. The auction also set new records for Lebanese-American artist Etel Adnan, Lebanese Argentinian ‘Peintora des Flores’ Bibi Zogbé, Egyptian modernist artist Hamed Abdalla and Palestinian French painter Samir Salameh. A number of benchmarks were set for artists appearing at auction for the first time, including Egyptian painter Youseff Sida, Italian member of the Egyptian Surrealists Angelo de Riz and Iraqi French contemporary artist Mehdi Moutasha.  


Sotheby’s Iznik Charger Sells for £5.35m

Sotheby’s had a big score in its £8.9m Arts of the Islamic world score with Max Debbane’s blue and white Iznik pottery charger that sold for £5.35m or more than 13 times the £300k low estimate. Sotheby’s press department tried to capture the object’s importance:

  • Following a fierce bidding battle between nine collectors that lasted twenty minutes, the charger broke a record for a piece of Iznik pottery. One of the most important pieces of Iznik pottery remaining in private hands, a large and intact dish circa 1480, the rare piece represents a significant discovery in the field of Ottoman art, belonging to the earliest group of Iznik – produced at the very genesis of the art form during the reign of Mehmet II ‘the Conqueror’.


Bonhams South Asian, Middle Eastern, Islamic and Indian Art = £7.79m

Bonhams held their South Asian, Middle Eastern, Islamic and Indian art sales in London. Taken together, they made almost £8m. Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art and Art of Pakistan totaled £3,719,125; Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern Art was £2,256,750; and Islamic and Indian Art rounded the sales out with £1,822,875.

One feature of Bonhams sale was the bankruptcy liquidation of private equity firm, the Abraaj Group’s art collection. Works like He is Merciful by Mohammad Ehsai (above) were acquired by Abraaj for $1m but sold for £320,750 against a pre-sale estimate of £50,000-100,000.  It’s not hard to sell everything when the estimates are quite low and everything must be sold. Other works from the Abraaj Group were:

  • Poet and the Bird by Parviz Tanavoli sold for £236,750 (estimate: £50,000-100,000)

  • Celebrations by Paul Guiragossian sold for £175,000 (estimate: £40,000-60,000)

  • Untitled by Manjit Bawa sold for £476,750 (estimate: £180,000-250,000)

  • Girl by Francis Souza (estimate: £80,00-120,000) sold for £428,750

  • Beej by Syed Haider Raza (estimate: £120,000-150,000) sold for £344,750

Other works did well in the sales too:

  • On the Banks of the Nile by Mahmoud Moktar sold for £248,750 (estimate £150,000-250,000)

  • Portrait of Amin Rihani by Kahlil Gibran sold for £92,500 (estimate £92,500)

  • Triptych by George Keyt that sold for £162,500 (estimate £ 60,000-90,000)


Christie’s Middle Eastern = £3.9m

Christie’s is still holding their Islamic Art sale in London tomorrow but the Modern and Contemporary sale finished with £3,921,000 against a sell-through rate of 83%.  The focus of the sale, An Ear of Mud, an Ear of Paste, by Abdel Hadi El Gazzar (estimate: £350-450k) realised £584,750.

  • The evening auction attracted interest from 18 countries and the top lots were bought by clients from America, France, UAE and the UK.


Speaking of Christie’s … a clarification

Yesterday we made this comment in the item on Christie’s Picasso painting Le Lampe: “Christie’s originally thought …” That was poorly stated. Dealers who claim knowledge of the pitch made to the consignor believe Christie’s expressed confidence they could sell the work for a strong price privately. It is now on offer with a third-party guarantee (after Christie’s provided a direct guarantee) and an estimate range of $25-35m. .


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