From Pablo Picasso to Salvador Dali: Which artworks were sold at Dubai's 100 Million Meals celebrity art auction?

The auction featured rare pieces, including a kaaba cover and works by Henri Matisse, Joan Miro and David Hockney

A total of nearly $10 million was pledged to the UAE’s 100 Million Meals campaign at a charity art auction in Dubai on Saturday.

Organised by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives in collaboration with Maupy Auction, the live auction, which took place at the Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, included rare artworks by Pablo Picasso, Nelson Mandela, Salvador Dali and David Hockney in its listings, as well as a signed painting by Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chairperson for Dubai Culture, titled The Road to the Journey of Humanity.

The charity initiative is one of the region’s biggest food drives, intent on giving 100 million meals to disadvantaged families during Ramadan. The amount of Dh36,673,000 ($9,985,840) raised will be used to help provide that same number of meals to beneficiaries in 30 countries throughout the holy month.

What artworks were sold at the 100 Million Meals celebrity art auction?

Among the items sold was a gold and silver embroidery that is part of the Kiswa, the cloth used to cover the Kaaba in Makkah. It was donated by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and sold for $2.7 million to an anonymous phone bidder.

British artist Sacha Jafri sold a vibrant piece titled The Journey of Humanity – With Love we are Reconnected, Inspired, Re-Energized for $4.2 million. The painting features the signature of Sheikha Latifa, after the artist asked her to sign the piece mid-auction, and the handprint and signature of Florian Picasso, the great grandson of the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso.

Jafri sold another collaborative work, A New Hope – A Child’s Prayer, that bears the handprints of celebrities supporting the 100 Million Meals campaign. This includes Cristiano Ronaldo, Eva Longoria, Steve Harvey, Maria Bravo, Roger Federer, Boris Becker, Amir Khan and Marjorie Harvey.

The Dubai artist recently made a big sale in March for his 1,800 square metres work on a canvas the size of a ballroom, which was also called The Journey of Humanity. The clothes he wore while painting the artwork also sold for $450,000.

The buyer of the $62 million piece, Andre Abdoune, was present at the charity auction on Saturday, but this time he did not walk away with a work.

Other pieces on the block included a work on paper by Henri Matisse, Fleurs dans un vase, from 1942. The piece is signed, dated and inscribed by Matisse, who developed the subject in multiple variations. As the title suggests, the drawing shows a flower in a decorative vase, one that had been in the Matisse collection for years. Made of opaque turquoise glass, the vase bears an Islamic crescent in the central frieze, though this is not visible in the work.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - APRIL 24: People look at art work by Henri Matisse during the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum's 100 Million Meals Campaign at Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah on April 24, 2021 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Works by artists including Picasso, Hockney, Miro and Matisse will be auctioned at a private event to raise money in the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum's 100 Million Meals Campaign to end hunger during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
People look at artwork by Henri Matisse during the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum's 100 Million Meals Campaign auction. Getty Images

Two of Nelson Mandela’s pastel and charcoal drawings – black and white swallows – also sold for $270,000. The drawings, framed in silver leaf, have been signed by the artist and political leader. The swallow was a significant symbol for Mandela, who would watch the birds migrate north during the cold months during his time in incarceration on Robben Island. He would often contemplate on how birds were freer than the individuals behind bars.

One of the rarer items at the event was Picasso’s Gold Medallions, which remains rather unknown within the artist’s oeuvre. In the 1950s, he worked with goldsmith Francois Hugo to create a series of gold and silver medallions based on Picasso’s designs. The works were not meant to be sold, but rather remain within the artist’s personal collection.

A total of seven medallions, made of 23-carat gold, were still listed at auction, however, some featuring profiles of individuals or drawings of masked figures.

Other notable works included original drawings by Joan Miro and Salvador Dali, as well as inkjet prints by British artist David Hockney.

A man takes a picture of artwork by David Hockney during the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum's 100 Million Meals Campaign auction at Mandarin Oriental Jumeirah on April 24, 2021. Getty Images
A man takes a picture of artwork by David Hockney at the auction. Getty Images

The two pieces by Spanish painter Miro sold for a total of $209,938. One of the abstract pieces, an untitled abstract work, sold for $59,904 to Umar Kamani, co-founder of fashion company PrettyLittleThing. The second artwork Personnages Oiseaux (Bird People), painted on plywood, was sold to an anonymous buyer.

A work on paper by Salvador Dali shows a study of faces, including a Madonna, child and man. It was acquired from the artist by John Peter Moore, a British Army Captain who died in 2003. The piece, which is from 1954, sold for $110,000. It was bought by Sima Ved for Apparel Group.

Two pieces by Hockney were also up for auction. In Front of House Looking West, which is signed and numbered by the artist, depicts a scene from the French countryside, where Hockney spends much of his time in Normandy. The second work is a computer drawing of a sailor smoking a cigarette. Both were sold at auction.

A bronze sculpture by Henry Moore, which shows a mother holding a child, was also sold.

The official prices the Matisse, Picasso, Hockney and Moore works sold for were not disclosed after the event.

Updated: April 25, 2021 02:13 PM

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