Modern & Contemporary Middle East

Sotheby’s Kicks Off the Dubai Art Season With a Bang

By Roxane Zand

I t was entirely befitting that the Dubai art season should be ushered in through a series of events staged by Sothebys in its brand new DIFC space. An elegant invitation-only Collectors Dinner with HRH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan as guest of honour, started off the activities.


The dinner’s Art Quiz conducted by Middle East Chairman Edward Gibbs was the highlight of the evening, giving everyone a sense of fun and challenge. Bringing together worldwide highlights from Sothebys international auction calendar spanning the forthcoming season, the travel exhibition at the Sothebys office which was inaugurated that evening ran for a week, allowing the public ample opportunity for viewing highly sought-after masterpieces by celebrated artists from the region alongside myriad pieces of historical importance, as well as a selection of extraordinary jewellery. The show included a first time unveiling of 'The Raj Pink', a superb and exceptionally rare diamond which will take centre stage during the Sothebys sale of Magnificent and Noble Jewels in Geneva on November 15. As the world’s largest known Fancy Intense Pink Diamond, it weighs an impressive 37.30 carats.


The Dinner was followed the next evening by a well-attended cocktail party that also premiered the latest episode of the BMW ‘The Art of 7’ – an art synergy which the car company has been fostering with a number of renowned artists, this time with Lebanese sculptor Nadim Karam. Dubai luminaries graced our premises with their presence and a lively party was enjoyed while the art was appreciated by one and all.

Highlights from seven categories of property with a combined total in excess of $73 million had been brought to Dubai: Twentieth Century Art from the Middle East, the landmark Howard Hodgkin ‘Portrait of the Artist’ single-owner sale, Arts of the Islamic World, Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art, The Library of a European Gentleman, Magnificent Jewels and Noble Jewels, and last but not least – Boundless: Dubai, Sothebys’ first-ever Dubai sale on 13 November. This sale will incorporate a fresh concept where a range of artworks, artefacts, design and other collectibles from across a broad range of categories with Middle Eastern inspiration will be offered. HRH Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed  bin Rashid Al Maktoum has given this Sotheby's sale the honour of her Patronage, having earlier signed an agreement for a series of educational collaborations.


On 10 October, a group of Ladies who were part of the Cultural Office of Her Highness Sheikha Manal, visited the office for a special session with senior Jewellery specialist Daniela Mascetti. The final day of events on Oct 11 concluded with a gallery tour by Ashkan Baghestani, head of Sotheby's Middle Eastern art sales, and also with a panel talk between Nadim Karam, and Deputy Chairman Roxane Zand. This talk, entitled ‘Conversations with Cities’, revolved around the impact of monumental public art on cities and habitats, and showcased the recent projects of Nadim whose practice incorporates large scale municipal art and sculpture. A lively question and answer session ended a busy day, though only giving brief pause before another cycle of events and activities take place prior to the Boundless: Dubai sale on November 13. Dubai has come to be known as the Middle Eastern city that never sleeps. This busy period was the perfect testimony to this fact!

Read Cultural Crossroads, my blog on the arts of the Middle East and North Africa.

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