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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Harvard Lecturer's Persian Manuscript Sells for Auction Record $12 Million

An illustrated page from the 16th-century Persian manuscript, the ``Shahnameh,'' (``Book of Kings''). It was estimated to sell for between 2 million and 3 million pounds at Sotheby's auction of Islamic works from the collection of the late Harvard lecturer Stuart Cary Welch in London on April 6. It sold for 7.4 million pounds with fees. An illustrated page from the 16th-century Persian manuscript, the ``Shahnameh,'' (``Book of Kings''). It was estimated to sell for between 2 million and 3 million pounds at Sotheby's auction of Islamic works from the collection of the late Harvard lecturer Stuart Cary Welch in London on April 6. It sold for 7.4 million pounds with fees. Source: Sotheby's via Bloomberg

A page from a 16th-century manuscript sold today for 7.4 million pounds ($12 million), an auction record for any Islamic work of art.

The illuminated sheet was one of the 258 illustrations to the “Shahnameh” and offered by Sotheby’s (BID) in its sale of works from the collection of the late Harvard lecturer Stuart Cary Welch. There were five telephone bidders.

“It’s one of the supreme examples of the art of the book,” the London-based dealer Brendan Lynch said.

The sale gave Middle Eastern buyers the chance to acquire one of the last illustrations from the book, showing King Faridun transformed into a dragon to test his sons’ courage.

The “Shahnameh” was made between 1520 and 1540 for Shah Tahmasp. The manuscript was owned by Arthur Houghton II, who donated 78 paintings to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1972.

Another 118 paintings were acquired from Houghton’s estate by the London-based dealer Oliver Hoare. In 1994, Hoare persuaded the Iranian government to accept these in exchange for Willem de Kooning’s 1952 painting “Woman III” in Tehran’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Both were valued at 13 million pounds at the time and were swapped at Vienna airport, according to the U.K.’s Independent newspaper.

The Abstract Expressionist canvas was subsequently acquired by the U.S. collector David Geffen in a sale brokered by the Zurich dealer Doris Ammann. Geffen sold the painting to the hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen for $137.5 million in 2006.

The highest price for an Islamic work of art was previously the 6.2 million pounds paid for a 17th-century Persian carpet at Christie's, London, in April 2010.

Stubbs Horse

George Stubbs is set to become only the sixth Old Master artist to sell for more than 20 million pounds ($32.5 million) at auction.

The U.K. painter’s 1765 canvas of a champion racehorse has a minimum hammer estimate of 20 million pounds at Christie’s International on July 5, the London-based auction house said today in an e-mailed statement. The work has a bid from a third party guarantor to ensure its sale.

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