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Egyptian painting fetches record US$2.43 million

Dubai–A work by Egyptian master Mahmud Said sold for US$2.43 million at an auction in Dubai, a record for a modern painting by a Middle Eastern artist, auction house Christie’s said.

The painting, “Les Chadoufs,” portrays Egyptian peasants drawing water from the Nile.

Christie’s, which organized Tuesday night’s auction at a luxury hotel in Dubai, had estimated its value at between US$150,000 and 200,000. The identity of the buyer was not revealed.

The British auction house said the price was a “record for any modern painting by any Middle Eastern artist.”

The auction was attended by dozens of buyers, with others participating by telephone or online.

A statement by Christie’s said the sale netted a total of $US15.1 million–more than double the US$6.7 million raised during its auction last October in Dubai, which was hard hit by the global financial crisis.

The painting by Said, an Egyptian artist who died in 1964 at age 67, belonged to former mayor of the Saudi city of Jeddah, Mohammed Said Farsi.

It was auctioned along with 25 other works from Farsi’s private collection at a total price of US$8.7 million.

“Sunset on the Nile at Luxor,” another of Said’s paintings, sold for US$902,000, while “Poet and Cage,” a sculpture by Iranian Parviz Tanavoli, sold for US$1.02 million.

Christie’s said that 64 percent of buyers were from the Middle East, while the rest were from the United States, Europe and Asia.

The auction was the eighth organized by Christie’s in Dubai. It is holding another auction for jewelery and watches on Wednesday.

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