Our Top Five... Art pieces from the emerging global markets

Recent global developments, like the emergence of China as the world's #2 economy last year, have shown that the world is set to undergo some big changes over the next few decades.

What's more, collectibles have proven themselves as being at the forefront of relations between the West and the growing "BRIC" (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and United Arab Emirates economies.

Why? Well, collectibles are portable, tangible and offer a tried, tested and proven global currency, with collectible artworks being especially suited to these criteria.

The world's top auction houses haven't failed to notice this - including Christie's pioneering and incredibly successful move to Dubai a few years ago.

So, as 2011 prepares itself for some further exciting developments in the global art markets, here are our top artworks to emerge at the world's top auctions in recent months...

Irma Stern's Bahora girl

Irma Stern is said to have been powerfully affected by the beauty of local Indian women while painting 'Bahora girl', an enchanting image of a Zanzibari beauty dating from 1945.

Irma Stern's Bahora girl with Zanzibar frame ($3.8m)

The oil on canvas was sold with its original Zanzibar frame at Bonhams, last year - with the frame adding to the interest. In the end, the piece sold for a $3.8m Word Record price.

According to Giles Peppiatt, Head of South African Art at Bonhams, the sale: "demonstrated the growing interest in South African art and the wisdom of selling in London to an international audience."

Alexander Yakovlev's The Kuli-Kuta Dance, 1926

Here's a 'South African artwork' with a difference, actually painted by a Russian. Artist Alexander Yakovlev shed light on the almost virgin lands of sub-Saharan Africa. There, he captured the intensity of its ancient rites and primitive beauty better than anybody else.

Alexander Yakovlev's The Kuli-Kuta Dance, 1926 (£937,250)

His piece entitled The Kuli-Kuta Dance, Niamey, inspired by a colourful and raucous crowd encountered by the explorers in the Niger's largest city, sold for £937,250 (with buyer's premium) from "an important US private collection" by MacDougall's in London, last November.

Mahmoud Said's Les Chadoufs

Mahmoud Said, was born in Alexandria in 1897. Encouraged by his family, he worked reluctantly as a lawyer until the age of 50.

It was then that he chose to follow his true dream of being an artist. Last April, a single painting by Said, Les Chadoufs, sold for $2.4m at Christie's.

Mahmoud Said's Les Chadoufs
Mahmoud Said's Les Chadoufs ($2.4m)

It was the highest auction price ever paid for a painting by any Middle Eastern artist, sold by collector Dr Farsi. Farsi is considered the driving force of the Egyptian art scene, with his collection bringing $8.7m at Christie's sale.

Jewad Salim's Mother and Child

A sculpture by the artist Jewad Salim brought a new World Record price for a piece of Iraqi art last October. The piece, entitled Mother and Child, sold for $384,000 (Dh 1.4m) at an auction held by Bonhams in Dubai.

Some of the works featured in the auction appeared with estimates between $6.2m and $8.3m. According to Bonhams' description, the piece is made from fruitwood and mixed media.

Jewad Salim's Mother and Child ($384,000)

It beat the prior sale record also set by Salim of $336,000 (achieved back in March 2008) and confirmed his status as the 'father' of modern Arab art.

Qianlong vase from around 1740

The vase, believed to have originated from the Imperial Kilns of the Qing Dynasty from around 1740, was discovered amongst the belongings of their late parents where it had lay hidden since the 1930s - until it was uncovered in the UK during a house clearance.

It was placed up for auction at the tiny Bainbridge auction house in Ruislip, UK, whose previous record price was for a piece of Ming enamel worth £100,000. After 30 extraordinary minutes of frantic bidding from all over the world, the vase brought £53,105,000.

Qianlong vase from around 1740 (£53.1m)

Art experts have mixed opinions about the vase, some describing it as "gaudy ". Nevertheless, Qing Dynasty artworks continue to net huge amounts on the world's auction blocks.

"The phenomenal prices being paid for Chinese works of art provides a fascinating insight into the tastes of China's new rich who are driving the market," reports today's edition of UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph.

"The Emperor Qianlong, who reigned from 1736 to 1795, is seen as the last great Emperor of China, and his style is back in fashion with a vengeance."


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