Buying spree puts Qatar emir's daughter atop art's 'power list'

Thu Oct 24, 2013 5:09am EDT
 
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - The daughter of the emir of Qatar was named as the art world's most powerful figure on Thursday after the tiny Gulf state went on an unprecedented spending spree at auction houses and in private sales around the world to fill its new museums.

Sheikha al-Mayassa al-Thani, who also heads the Qatar Museums Authority, tops ArtReview magazine's annual Power 100 list, the second year in a row that a woman has taken the No. 1 spot.

The U.S.-educated Sheikha was chosen "on account of her organization's vast purchasing power and willingness to spend at a rate estimated to be $1 billion a year - in order to get top works of art for its Doha museums", ArtReview said.

"I think the figures definitely speak for themselves, and of the importance she has for the art market," Mark Rappolt, ArtReview's editor, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

The Museums Authority is generally thought to have been behind the record $250 million purchase of a Cezanne painting of two card players. The 2011 sale, details of which have never been officially confirmed, was about double the previous record for a painting.

The purchase instantly put the Museums Authority into the big leagues of international collections, with the others in Cezanne's five-painting series held by the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Courtauld in London and the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.

Since then, the Sheikha and the Museums Authority have picked up works by Picasso, Damien Hirst and others, while engaging in a massive museum-building project in the Qatari capital Doha, Rappolt said.

"I think also in some ways you could say that the Qatari Museums Authority is symptomatic of a global art culture in which art is culturally exchangeable," he said.   Continued...