The former emir's daughter in the ruling family of Qatar has been named the most powerful woman in the art world by ArtReview magazine, thanks in large part to a buying spree of $1 billion per year, including the $250 million purchase for Cezanne’s "The Card Players" in 2012.
“No wonder, then, that whenever Sheikha Al-Mayassa (bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani) is in town, everyone from government ministers to mayors queue up to pay their respects — as British culture minister Ed Vaizey and London mayor Boris Johnson did during her recent visit to the capital,” ArtReview wrote.
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"The Card Players" was the most expensive painting ever sold, but other over-the-top purchases include $73 million for a Mark Rothko in 2007, which at the time was the highest price paid for a postwar piece at an auction.
Sheikha al-Mayassa heads the Qatar Museums Authority and is the sister of the country’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, who took power after their father abdicated earlier this year.
“I think the figures definitely speak for themselves, and of the importance she has for the art market,” ArtReview’s editor, Mark Rappolt, told Reuters.
Rappolt told Reuters that following the Cezanne purchase,
the sheikh and the Museums Authority picked up works by Picasso, Damien Hirst and others while embarking on “a massive museum-building project” in the Qatari capital of Doha.
“People with money have always bought and traded commodities and art has been one of them,” he said. “In some ways it’s nothing new but perhaps on this scale it gets a bit newer.”
Qatar is a constitutional monarchy ruled by the Al Thani family since the mid-1850s. Sitting on a small peninsula just east of Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich nation with just 250,000 citizens tops Forbes’ list of richest countries in the world per capita.
Qatar isn’t just interested in art. The nation bought a stake last year in Netherlands-based Royal Dutch Shell, and recently secured a 5 percent stake in the Indian telecom firm Bharti Airtel Lt. for $1.26 billion, al Arabiya reported.
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