May 4, 2006

Warhol, Asian art at Christie’s 1st Mideast auction

By Haitham Haddadin

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Auction house Christie's said on
Thursday it would hold its inaugural Middle East auction this
month in Dubai, with contemporary and modern Arab, Asian and
Western art, including work by icons like Andy Warhol.

Christie's officials told a news conference in Kuwait that
this was to be the first sale of its kind in the region and
aims to make the Middle East a key part of the international
art market.

"The auction offers an unparalleled opportunity to assert
Christie's as a principal player in the new and exciting art
market which is emerging in the region," Christie's CEO Edward
Dolman said in a statement.

Some 128 paintings, sculptures, prints and photographs from
across the Arab world, Iran, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and
the West will be up for sale at the May 24 public auction.

The works include two prints by Warhol, including "The
Double Mona Lisa" of 1978 which is expected to fetch as much as
$160,000. India's Syed Haider Raza is displaying four
paintings, of which "Sourya" is seen with a price tag of up to

"Early indications show that there is a very high level of
interest," Paul Hewitt, a director at London-based Christie's,
told the conference.

"We are looking at new markets," he said, adding that
Christie's looks to extend future auctions to include Islamic
art, jewelry, fine watches and motor cars.

Some items are priced to start as low as $3,500, in order
"to appeal to different kinds of people," Hewitt said.

Notable Arab artists whose works are in this sale include
Iraq's Dia Al-Azzawi, Egypt's Ahmed Moustafa, and the late
Fateh Moudarres of Syria and Paul Guiragossian of Lebanon.

Cultural life in Iran is expressed in photographs by female
artist Shadi Ghadirian while Jordanian female artist Mona Saudi
showcases stone sculptures.

William Lawrie, a Christie's specialist in Islamic art,
said that modern art of the Middle East and North Africa
blossomed during the second half of the 20th century in the
post-colonial era following World War II.

On offer also will be works by India's Francis Newton Souza
who formed a new movement in modern Indian art. Among his
works, "The Green Landscape" from 1960 and "Monsoon" from 1958
are set to fetch up to $150,000 and $220,000, respectively.