Revealed: $72.8m Rockefeller Rothko has gone to Qatar

I absolutely love Rothko, so simple yet so emotional.  When I visit Teh Tate Modern in London I always spend hours in the Rothko Room, gazing at his masterpieces.

I just came across this in The Art Newspaper, obviously another great admirer.  If you like Emir of Qatar, I will sell you acouple of my paintings and discount price.  Maybe $50m.

The Emir of Qatar and his wife have also spent $52.7m on a Francis Bacon and £9.7m on a Damien Hirst

Qatar’s ruling Al-Thani family is the mystery buyer of Mark Rothko’s White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose), 1950, which sold at Sotheby’s New York on 15 May 2007 for $72.8m—setting a record for the highest price ever paid for a work of post-war art at auction. The painting was consigned by David Rockefeller.

A well placed source in Qatar has revealed that the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and his wife, Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al-Missned, also purchased Francis Bacon’s Study from Innocent X for $52.7m at the same Sotheby’s sale. Although Sotheby’s does not disclose information about its clients, both purchases have been independently confirmed by The Art Newspaper.

The Al-Thani family has been a major collector of Islamic art for several years but it has not previously been known to buy European and American work at this level.

We can also reveal that other recent purchases include Damien Hirst’s Lullaby Spring for which the Qataris paid £9.7m at Sotheby’s London in June 2007, setting an auction record for a work by a living European artist. The 2002 sculpture, which consists of painted and cast pills displayed in a steel and glass cabinet, is now installed in Doha amid a growing collection of modern and contemporary art.

The entry of the Al-Thanis into this market is part of a global movement of high-end works of art from West to East as American and European collectors—encouraged by the resilience of the top end of the market in the face of uncertainty in the financial sectors—consign works to auction which are increasingly going to new collectors in the Gulf region, the ex-Soviet republics and China.

In a statement released in February which describes its results for 2007, Sotheby’s president and chief executive officer Bill Ruprecht said: “In 2003 our top buyers—purchasing lots of $500,000 and above—came from 36 countries; in 2007 they came from 58 countries.”

Another factor is the construction of an outpost of the Guggenheim on an island adjacent to Abu Dhabi. This is scheduled to open in 2012. Zaki Nusseibeh, culture advisor to the Emirate, says the museum has a “potentially unlimited” budget for acquisitions. A branch of the Louvre is also under construction.

As part of an investigation into record auction prices for living artists, we also reveal in our May issue that Jeff Koons’s Hanging Heart (Magenta/ Gold), 1994-2006, which currently holds the record for the most expensive work by a living artist to sell at auction, was purchased for $23.6m by Ukrainian collector Victor Pinchuk. It was consigned to auction by New York collector Adam Lindemann. The Peter Doig painting, White Canoe, 1990-91, sold by British collector Charles Saatchi in February 2007 went to Georgian mining magnate, Boris Ivanishvili.

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