The evening raised over $1 million toward scholarships for needy and deserving students.

BEIRUT - Before jetting to Dubai to take part in the much-anticipated Art Dubai fair, I stopped in Lebanon for a benefit gala. 950 people, from all over the world, flew in to attend the event, which benefitted the Lebanese American University. It was a star-studded event honoring Elie Saab, who had recently started LAU's first fashion design chair and program at the school. In attendance were famous Lebanese politicians, filmmakers, singers, fashion designers and collectors in addition to LAU supporters.

International designer Elie Saab addresses the audience as the Elie Saab Bachelor Degree in Fashion Design is formally launched.

Intense bidding for the ten lots offered (which raised $110,000) occurred as soon as I opened with two paintings by Hassan Jouni, one of the most beloved and important Lebanese artists. Bidders from the Middle East aggressively put up their paddles in hopes of acquiring one of his paintings. It was wonderful to see the energy as Sotheby's paddles were popping up all over the room and Kevin Doyle, my colleague from New York, helped energetically spot bids as they came in from every corner of the enormous ballroom. One patron of the museum was so moved by the excitement of the night that they pledged $9 million to LAU, and as you can imagine it was a huge success in addition to the auction.

(From left to right) Assistant Vice President for Development Nassib Nasr, Dr. Paul Boulos chairman of the Board of Trustees, May Ogden-Smith, Dr. Jabbra and Dr. Raymond Audi, member of LAU’s Board of International Advisors.

It was most interesting to note that the most intense bidding occurred for paintings, a definite reflection of the appetite in the region for key works of art, as they got ready to attend Art Dubai just a few days later. I had the pleasure of walking around the art fair with a few of the guests and bidders who attended the LAU gala, as we scouted for interesting and key artists from the Middle East region. A few also attended our Sotheby's luncheon in Dubai where we exhibited highlights from our Doha Contemporary Art sale for which anticipation of bidding is also gaining great momentum.