Art and Antiques

Qatari Riches Buying Cultural Influence

Ivan Andrews / August 6, 2013

Qatar  has a lot to contribute to the art market. Some of the recent sales in art market prove this fact beyond doubt. Rothko’s “White Center” sold for over $70 million in 2007. This was followed by the sale of Damien Hirst pill cabinet that went for $20 million later that year.

If you are thinking that there could have been a downfall in the art market after the golden days it saw in 2007, one can perhaps thank the rich of Qatar who continued this mission effortlessly, ever since.

Qatar has a host of people who have cultural inclination and continue to pursue the same, regardless of the fact that markets may be going through a low phase. Patricia G. Hambrecht, chief business development officer for Phillips auction house points out that Qatari people are perhaps the most important buyers of art in the market during current times.

Sheika al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, chairwoman of the Qatar Museums Authority is the most influential art buyers from Qatar and she has been purchasing art collections from throughout the region with help of intermediaries.

Though the exact amount spent by Sheika al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani is speculative, the sister of Qatar’s new emir has reportedly spend over $1 billion in collecting art from across the world.

Contemporary masterpieces by Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein and Francis Bacon form a part of major collection that have been purchased by Qatari’s who have a taste for contemporary art. Though the real worth and use of this art by Qatar is still not clear, it is speculated that like the oil reserves that Qatar had used to strengthen its position in the Middle East, the art collection could be used to showcase Qatar as a culturally rich state.


It is interesting to mention here that Qatar Museum Authority has come up with three new museums during the recent years, perhaps well appraised of the fact that people in Qatar have a rich collection of art. These museums have been made in Doha, and the architects namely Jean- Francois Bodin, I.M. Pei and Jean Nouvel who hold a considerable hold in Qatari cultural circuit.

Qatar spending on collection of art from across the world is little reflected in the budgets that these premier museums. Museum of Modern Art had a fiscal budget $32 million for art acquisition while Metropolitan Museum of Art had a budget of $39 million. Though other gulf countries like Dubai and Abu Dhabi have been trying to match up with the riches of Qatar in art sector, they are no match to Qatar. Both these countries have collaborated with premium institutes as Guggenheim and Louvre but still not have been able to match the might of Qatar.


The interest that Qatari’s have shown in collecting paintings from across the world has perhaps made this tiny Middle East country a special one in art circuit and art lovers from across the world have their eyes firmly focused on Qatar.



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