In separate events, Qatar’s ruling family buys $72.8M Rothko, $52.7M Bacon, $19M Hirst

May 14th, 2008

Image via Bloomberg

On May 4th, The Art Newspaper revealed the buyers of five of last year’s highest priced artworks at auction. The Al-Thani ruling family of Qatar was one of the previously anonymous buyers of three of these through Sotheby’s in May and June of 2007.

Revealed: $72.8m Rockefeller Rothko has gone to Qatar [The Art Newspaper]
Qatari Ruling Family Revealed as $72.8 Million Rothko Buyers [ArtInfo]
Qatar rulers pay £26m for Bacon [Times Online]
Revealed: Record-Breaking Rothko In Qatar [Art Forum]

Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Kalifa Al-Thani and his wife Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned purchased Rothko’s White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose) for $72.8 million.  Rothko’s piece popularly known as “Rockefeller Rothko”, when sold became the most expensive post-war work ever sold at auction.

Mark Rothko, White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose) (1950) via ArtInfo.

Two of these works were bought at a New York Sotheby’s auction on May 15th last year and the third was bought on June 21st at Sotheby’s London.  Mark Rothko’s 1950 painting White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose) sold for $72.8 million in New York and set a record as the highest priced post-war piece ever sold at auction. The other New York sale to the family was Francis Bacon’s Study from Innocent X, 1962 which sold for $52.7 million.  Damien Hirst’s Lullaby Spring set an auction record as a work by a living European artist selling in London for £9.7million.

Francis Bacon, Study from Innocent X (1962) via AskArt

The Al-Thanis, as part of a recent movement in Gulf area countries to acquire aspects of European and American culture, have plans for the construction of a series of museums and galleries in Doha in which these works will likely be showcased.  Nearby Abu Dhabi is also in the process of creating branches of both the Guggenheim and the Louvre as well as bringing an extension of NYU to their overseas location.

Damien Hirst, Lullaby Spring (2002)