People can try treasures on for size

Christie's auction house invites people to try on expensive watches and jewellery or simply admire masterpieces during a show at the Emirates Palace hotel.

October 2008-provided image of Monet's Dans la Prairie, part of the Christie's per auction show in Emirates Palace on Oct 26th, 27th.
Courtesy Christie's
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ABU DHABI // Christie's auction house is inviting people to try on expensive watches and jewellery or simply admire such masterpieces as Monet's Dans la Prairie during a show at the Emirates Palace hotel next week. The treasures, including a Kashmir sapphire worth more than US$2.8 million (Dh10.3m), are part of an exhibition of lots from forthcoming international sales. The collection, valued at more than US$300m, will be on display this Sunday and Monday to launch the Middle East auction season.

Held in association with the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), it will include 17 pieces loaned by private collectors, such as Abdul Rahman Mohammed al Owais, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development. Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon al Nahyan, chairman of TDIC, said: "This exhibition is testament to Abu Dhabi's commitment to bring the best in arts and culture to the UAE and the region."

Michael Jeha, Christie's Middle East managing director, said the addition of the private collections was "very important on many levels". "It shows the increasing participation of locals in the art market and it serves as an indication of the many great collections of art that have already been assembled across the region," he said. Some 75 paintings and more than 100 pieces of jewellery and watches are to be showcased, with more than 40 experts from Christie's on hand to give information to potential buyers.

Visitors will be able to try on the watches and jewellery and those interested in buying can place bids later, when the auctions open. Most of the paintings will be offered at auctions in New York, London and Dubai, while the jewellery and watches will go on sale in New York and Hong Kong. Mr Jeha said: "We want as many people as possible to have the opportunity to come into contact with the greatest pieces from the greatest categories of art from around the world."

The selection of art will involve some rare items, with impressionist and modern art from Europe including masterpieces by Claude Monet and Paul Gauguin. The contemporary art section is made up of works from Gerard Richter, Mark Rothko and Roy Lichtenstein, while the Asian art section includes vibrant modern paintings like Zeng Fanzhi's Dusk of Shanghai. Leading the collection is Monet's Dans la Prairie, which depicts the artist's wife Camille reclining and reading among blooming flowers in an open meadow. It is widely regarded as one of the painter's most influential works.

Christie's is in its fifth season of auctions in the Middle East. Since opening a Dubai office in April 2005 its auctions have sold more than US$100m worth of items. Half of this has come from Middle Eastern buyers. The decision to bring the exhibition to Abu Dhabi, said Mr Jeha, showed that the "depth of buying is growing as is the overall demand and appetite for art". Christie's Landmark International Art Exhibition will be at the Emirates Palace on Sunday from 3-10pm and Monday from 11am-8pm.

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