Strong sales reported at Art Dubai 2022 with artworks and NFTs being sold

An NFT by visual artist Tyler Hobbs sold for $220,000

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Galleries at Art Dubai reported that sales were strong, with UAE and European collectors making up most of the buyers. Art Dubai Digital, the new cluster offering NFTs and other digital works, also said that the transition of the NFT market into the real fair mode had proved financially successful.

Dubai's Lawrie Shabibi sold $180,000 worth of works on the opening day, including a wall sculpture by Mehdi Moutashar, a painting by Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim — who is representing the UAE at the Venice Biennale — and a marble inlay work by Hamra Abbas, which they placed in a regional institution.

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Their Alserkal neighbours The Third Line reported that they had sold an embroidery work by New York artist Jordan Nassar and a sculpture by Sahand Hesamiyan.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, attended the official opening of Art Dubai on Friday, accompanied by Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, and led through the fair by Benedetta Ghione, executive director of Art Dubai. Photo: Dubai Media Office

Abbas also has a show up at Lawrie Shabibi’s Alserkal Avenue space, including a stunning marble inlay work representing K2, the tallest mountain in Pakistan, made out of lapis lazuli (as yet unsold).

Other galleries similarly used exhibitions that had opened around Dubai to help garner interest for their works, such as Experimenter gallery from Kolkata, India. They sold more than 15 works on opening day, ranging upwards to $75,000, including one by Samson Young, who has a participatory sound installation at the Jameel Arts Centre, as well as a work by Radhika Khimji, who is representing Oman this year for the country’s first time at the Venice Biennale.

None of the mega-galleries such as David Zwirner or Gagosian came to Art Dubai, which focuses on the Global South, so there were few million-dollar transactions. Instead, sales were steady across the board, in a healthy mid-market range. Many of the purchases went to local private collectors, in an indicator of the number of wealthy individuals who have moved to Dubai since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

The Ghanaian Gallery 1957 had a solo booth of paintings by Nigerian artist Modupeola Fadugba, priced between $35,000 and $52,000, and sold six on opening day to Dubai collectors. Jhaveri Contemporary, from Mumbai, also sold a number of pieces to local collectors, including works by Amina Ahmed, Rana Begum and Yamini Nayar.

People visit the 15th edition of Art Dubai at Madinat Jumeirah, on March 10, 2022. AFP

Art Dubai was bigger than ever this year in terms of booths. New galleries coming to the event for the first time were also selling, such as Andrehn-Schiptjenko, which has outposts in Stockholm and Paris. They placed a sculpture work by Martin Soto Climent with a Dubai corporate collection, priced between $30,000 and $40,000. Thomas Brambilla, from Bergamo, sold a work by British artist Maggi Hambling to a European client in Dubai, priced at £35,000 ($45,000).

The NFT and digital offerings at Art Dubai Digital also reported sales, in both dollars and ethereum. Institut.co sold an NFT by Tyler Hobbs for 88 ethereum ($220,000), as well as a strong number of editions and NFTs by Lawrence Lek (each priced at $1,111) in the first time the digital artist has done a drop.

Morrow collective, the Dubai NFT gallery, sold fractionalised elements of a work by the Dubai NFT artist Amrita Sethi, to a number of Dubai collectors, and Pilevneli, a gallery in Istanbul showing in the Digital section, sold two works by Refik Anadol, with others on reserve for $85,000 each.

Art Dubai launched its dedicated Digital section this year. Getty Images for Art Dubai
Updated: March 13, 2022, 7:01 PM