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Saudi Collector to Stage Largest Egyptian Modern Art Auction

A Saudi patron who amassed the largest collection of modern Egyptian art plans to auction 25 of the works in the first large-scale sale of its kind.

Mohammed Said Farsi, a former mayor of the Red Sea port city of Jeddah, plans to sell the artwork at a Christie’s auction of International Modern and Contemporary Art in Dubai on April 27, according to auction company, which organized a preview of the sale today. The sale of the art may raise as much as $1.7 million, the London-based auction house estimated.

“By looking at this collection, you get a really good sense of the total picture of Egyptian 20th century art,” William Lawrie, a Dubai-based Christie’s expert on contemporary Arab and Iranian art, said in an interview. “It’s the first time that there’s been this single owner collection to come up and it could create a whole new market for these works.”

Farsi, 75, who was mayor of Jeddah from 1972 to 1986, commissioned artists including Joan Miro and Henry Moore to produce monumental sculptures for an open air museum in the city. He also collected extensively among Egyptian artists on a private basis and now owns several hundred pieces.

On sale in Dubai will be five works by Mahmoud Said, 1897-1964, considered the first modern Egyptian painter. These include “Les Chadoufs,” an oil painting inspired by Egypt’s Pharaonic and Islamic history that has a target auction price of $150,000 to $200,000.

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