Christie’s Chairman Edward Dolman Quits, Joins Qatar Museums

Edward J. Dolman, chairman of Christie’s International, is leaving the auction house to join the board of the Qatar Museums Authority.

A Christie’s employee for 27 years, Dolman will be working directly for the emir’s daughter, Mayassa Bint Hamad Al Thani, as the executive director of her office, the London-based auction house said today in an e-mailed statement.

Dolman, 51, became chairman of Christie’s in September 2010, when Steven Murphy, the former president and chief executive of the U.S.-based publishing company Rodale Inc., succeeded him as CEO.

Dolman had been appointed CEO in December 1999 after spending several years as a European furniture specialist.

Qatar’s museums authority administers collections of Islamic art, Orientalist paintings, natural history, photography, armor, Islamic coins, costumes and jewelry.

In October 2010, the emir said he may be interested in acquiring the London-based auction house, the Financial Times reported, after months of speculation about a possible Qatari bid. Christie’s remains a private company owned by the French billionaire Francois Pinault. The auction house was bought by his holding company, Groupe Artemis SA, for $1.2 billion in May 1998.

Active Buyers

The new National Museum of Qatar, designed by Jean Nouvel, is scheduled to open in December 2014, according to the authority’s website. Members of the Qatari royal family have been active buyers of Western modern and contemporary art in recent years.

The emir, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and his wife paid 9.7 million pounds for Damien Hirst’s 2002 pill cabinet, “Lullaby Spring,” at Sotheby’s (BID), London, in June 2007.

They were also the buyers of Mark Rothko’s $72.8 million painting “White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose)” at Sotheby’s New York in May 2007, the Art Newspaper said in May 2008. The price was an auction record for a postwar work of art. Mayassa Bint Hamad Al Thani was seen last week at the Art Basel fair in Switzerland.

“We have no plans to replace Ed and appoint a new chairman,” said Alexandra Buxton, Christie's London-based head of corporate communications. “Patricia Barbizet continues in her long-standing role as chairman of the Board of Christie’s and chief executive officer of Artemis,” said Buxton in an interview.

(Scott Reyburn writes about the art market for Muse, the arts and culture section of Bloomberg News. Opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer on the story: Scott Reyburn in London at sreyburn@hotmail.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Beech at mbeech@bloomberg.net.

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