“Hurouf: The Art of the World”, December 15, Sotheby’s, Doha, Qatar

The first sale dedicated to calligraphy held by an international auction house. “Hurouf: The Art of the World” included lots that ranged from very early Islamic calligraphies and Ottoman pieces of the 18th and 19th centuries to the works of modern and contemporary artists.

“The Arabic script has stimulated artists for more than a millennium, and is still a highly regarded and revered art form that reflects the rich history of the region,” said Dalya Islam, Director of Sotheby’s Middle East Arab & Iranian Art Department.

Collectors from the Middle East, India, Turkey, Europe and North America made purchases. A remarkable 32 % of buyers were entirely new to Sotheby’s.

The Total:
$5,630,125 (QAR 20,500,765), in excess of the pre-sale high estimate of $5.5 million.

The Highlights

The top-selling work was Egyptian artist Ahmed Moustafa’s 2010 oil and watercolour on paper The Night Journey and Ascension. This work, measuring 240 by 148.5cm, realised the strong sum of $842,500 / QAR 3,067,764 (Est: $700,000-900,000), representing a new record for the artist at auction.

No fewer than five bidders competed for Farhad Moshiri’s 2005 mixed media on canvas, 095TTV, and after five minutes of intense bidding the painting brought the outstanding price of $782,500 / QAR 2,849,288, over seven times pre-sale expectations (Est: $100,000-150,000).

Untitled, a 1962 oil on canvas by Mohammad Ehsai sold above the high estimate of $350,000 for $554,500 / QAR 2,019,080, and Rachid Koraichi’s bronze Ahmed Ezaatar, brought $182,500/ QAR 664,530, against a low estimate of $180,000.

Highlighting the works from the traditional section of the sale was an important external curtain of the Holy Ka'ba door with the Tughra of the Ottoman Sultan Abdülmejid, Turkey, 18th century, which sold for $362,500 / QAR 1,319,958, above pre-sale expectations (Est: $200,000-300,000).

A Concertina Form Asma Al-Husna,copied by Muhammad Bahir Bey, Ottoman Turkey, 1276 AH/1859AD, also performed very well, selling for $104,500 / QAR 380,512, above the top estimate (Est: $50,000-70,000), to a private Turkish buyer.