Let the bidding begin: Christie’s stages three auctions dedicated to Middle Eastern art

Ayman Baalbaki. 'Warehouse No. 12.' 2020. Mixed media and acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.
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Updated 17 November 2020

Let the bidding begin: Christie’s stages three auctions dedicated to Middle Eastern art

DUBAI: Three months after the Beirut explosions ravaged Lebanon’s cosmopolitan Mediterranean capital, leaving over 300,000 homeless, more than 200 dead and thousands injured, the damage, which comes on top of the country’s collapsed banking system, corrupt government and spiking COVID-19 cases, continues to depress the country that has long been the Middle East’s bastion for creativity.

Tagreed Darghouth. 'Brighter than a thousand suns - Beirut Apocalypse.' 2015. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.

In light of Lebanon’s continued plight, Christie’s Dubai is hosting a special charity auction titled We Are All Beirut, alongside its traditional Middle Eastern Modern and Contemporary Art sale and a specially curated auction entitled Matters of Material by Dina Nasser-Khadivi.  All three sales kicked off on Nov. 11 and run until Nov. 24, offering a variety of 151 lots with estimates ranging from below $6,607 to $330,360.

“I have taken great hope in the support shown towards Beirut’s arts community,” said Caroline Louca-Kirkland, managing director Christie’s Middle East to Arab News. “The response regionally and internationally has been heartening. I am hopeful that we can raise enough funds to genuinely make a difference and help our beloved Beirut and it’s arts community, flourish again.”

Laure Ghorayeb. 'L'Etoile Filante.' 2011. Mixed media on cardboard. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Janine Rubeiz

Included among the works on offer in We Are All Beirut are art, design and jewelry pieces, with all the proceeds benefiting the Arab Fund Arts & Culture (AFAC) to support the rebuilding of Beirut’s creative scene. A selection of works have been sourced by Art Haus Beirut, with their proceeds going towards the Lebanese Red Cross. These include pieces by Ayman Baalbaki, Katya Traboulsi, Serwan Baran, Tagreed Darghouth, Alfred Basbous and Abdul Rahman Katanani, among others.

Christie’s traditional Middle Eastern Modern & Contemporary will offer its usual diverse selection of works from artists across the MENA region and Iran. Top lots feature works by the late Mohamed Melehi, Farid Belkahia, Samia Halaby, Rachid Koraïchi and Farhad Moshiri. The sale also includes an inaugural design section, curated by architect and interior designer Viktor Udzenija, offering limited edition pieces by Nada Debs, Hassan Hajjaj and Ranya Sarakbi.

Oussama Baalbaki. 'Beirut Port.' 2020. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.

“Christie’s is very much looking forward to our upcoming season of auctions, which are both innovative and carefully curated to meet the demand from today’s collectors,” said Michael Jeha, Chairman of Christie’s Middle East to Arab News. “We are also very excited by the role that technology and digitalization has played in these auctions, a trend that will continue going forward. We expect the caliber of works to appeal to an international audience and we are very proud to be a part of the Beirut auction, helping to raise funds for the arts community there.”

The third sale, the first of its kind, is a collaboration between Christie’s and international art consultant Dina Nasser-Khadivi. Titled Matters of Material is curated auction focusing on defying stereotypes and supporting diversity in the international contemporary art market, with selected works hailing from the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. “This new curated sale is part of a new strategy very specific to the contemporary sale, which links the Middle East to new geographies, namely Africa and Latin America,” explained Nasser-Khadivi to Arab News. “The theme of this first sale is dedicated to an exploration of how media and materials can be used to and recycled to create powerful statements and works of art.”

Serwan Baran. 'Beirut Clean-up.' 2020. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist.

One of the lead works of Matters of Material is “Baby” by Iranian artist Farhad Moshiri. A sculptural work that the artist executed in 2020, it is made of a multitude of keychains arranged to spell the word “Baby.” To date, Mohsiri has only ever produced three works in this material and Baby is the first to be offered at auction.

While Moshiri’s works are often stereotyped as pop, exotic, and rooted in Persian traditions and styles, they also reference global exchanges, namely through the materials that he uses to strike up discourses related to North, South, East and West — the same themes that weave through the additional works on show in this new section, challenging our everyday thoughts in regard to the massive shifts taking place in the world.

Nancy Ajram’s husband indicted over intruder’s death

Updated 25 November 2020

Nancy Ajram’s husband indicted over intruder’s death

DUBAI: A Lebanese judge has indicted Fadi El-Hachem, the husband of Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram, with the intentional killing of an intruder who broke into their Beirut property on Jan. 5.

Celebrity dentist El-Hachem was accused of shooting dead the masked intruder, Mohammed Hassan Al-Moussa, who broke into their home in the early hours of the morning. The dentist said the assailant was threatening his family, including his three daughters.

The case was referred to Mount Lebanon’s first investigative judge Nicolas Mansour, who on Tuesday indicted Al-Hachem with intentional killing in self-defense. If prosecuted, the sentence could be up to 20 years.

The issue has now been referred to the Mount Lebanon’s Indictment Division.

The case was referred to Mount Lebanon’s first investigative judge Nicolas Mansour, who on Tuesday indicted Al-Hachem with intentional killing in self-defense. If prosecuted, the sentence could be up to 20 years.

Initial CCTV footage from the celebrity couple’s home appeared to show what was believed to be an intruder carrying a gun in the villa. El-Hachem then appeared and chased the deceased, firing his gun as the intruder ran towards their daughter’s bedroom.

MTV Lebanon has since reported that the intruder was shot 16 times.

“Before anything, Fadi is a father and a husband. He has responsibilities. He is a human being... It was a normal reaction to the threat he experienced,” Ajram said in conversation with LBCI Lebanon News on Jan. 7.

During the interview, Ajram also opened up about how she hid in the bathroom when she realized there was an intruder in her home. 

“I heard Fadi telling him ‘whatever you want.’ When I heard this sentence, I knew the intruder was a robber and I ran to the bathroom with my phone.

“I called my father first because I was scared… I was shaking and I was in a state that I can’t describe to anyone. I called my father and told him ‘dad there is a thief in the house… do something now, Fadi and I and the children are home.” 

The singer also denied claims that the assailant was known to the family, stating “We do not know the intruder and he does not work with us.”