Totals £4.6M At Bonhams London

Sales for the week (including the works from the Abraaj Collection) achieve £7.8M

Top lot of the Abraaj Collection: Untitled by Manjit Bawa. Sold for £476,750. (Estimate: £150,000-250,000).

Bonhams sale of the art collection of the Abraaj Group, the private equity company, made a total of £4,650,500 over three sales held in London on Tuesday 23 and Wednesday 24 October. Every lot found a buyer, making this a white glove sale.

The Abraaj Collection, assembled mainly in the early 2000s, was famous for its depth and quality, and combined Arab, Iranian, and South Asian art with traditional Islamic and Indian art. Many of the pieces had appeared in retrospective exhibitions, and in monographs and publications.

Bonhams Director of Middle Eastern, Islamic and South Asian Art, Nima Sagharchi said:
"It was a great honour to offer this wonderful collection for sale and we are delighted at the results. The Abraaj Collection was well known for its exceptional quality and I am not surprised that collectors took the opportunity to purchase works with such distinguished provenance."

Bonhams Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art specialist Tahmina Ghaffar added, "The exceptional prices achieved show the confidence in the market for art from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka."

200 pieces from the Collection were featured at Bonhams in the Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art and Art of Pakistan sale; and Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern Art sale on 24 October, and the Islamic and Indian Art on 23rd October. There will also be an online only auction of other items from the Abraaj collection in November.

Highlights from Collection featured in the Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art and Art of Pakistan Sale included:

Untitled by Manjit Bawa (India, 1941-2008) that sold for £476,750 having been estimated at £180,000-250,000. Manjit Bawa's works are devoid of landscapes or other superfluous details recalling the style of Rajput and Pahari miniature painting. The coexistence of man and animals is a recurring depiction in his paintings, here exemplified by a seated woman in traditional Punjabi clothing surrounded by dogs.

Girl by the Indian master Francis Souza. Estimated at £80,00-120,000, the painting sold for £428,750. Born and raised a Roman Catholic, Souza's work often challenges what he saw as the hypocrisy of the Church's teachings on sex and, in particular, its attitude towards female sexuality.

Beej by Syed Haider Raza (India, 1922-2016). With a pre-sale estimate of £120,000-150,000, the painting was sold for £344,750. Raza was a founding member of the Progressive Artists Group formed in Bombay. One of the most seminal works from Raza's Bindu series, Beej incorporates all the geometric and aesthetic elements that defined his marked shift from expressionistic landscape to geometric abstraction.

Among the highlights of the Collection included in the Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern Art Sale were:

He is Merciful by Mohammad Ehsai (Iran, born 1939 which sold for £320,750 against a pre-sale estimate of £50,000-100,000. One of the most gifted calligraphers to emerge from Iran within the past century, Ehsai is devoted to the perfection of his craft, and has married the technical finesse of his formal training within a modern visual schema.

Poet and the Bird by Parviz Tanavoli (Iran, born 1937) which sold for £236,750 (estimate: £50,000-100,000). This unique and monumental bronze sculpture makes extensive use of the common literary metaphors of traditional Persian poetry, and takes its inspiration from the religious imagery of the Iranian urban landscape.

Celebrations by Paul Guiragossian (Lebanon, 1926-1993) which made £175,000 having been estimated at £40,000-60,000. The work was executed in 1990 towards the end of the Lebanese Civil War which had started in 1975. In the artist's own words, ""Some were not able to produce any art during the war, but I was painting without stop. My war was my painting, my revenge was my colours, and my biggest revenge was always love, beauty and nature even in the darkest of times."

There were, additionally, 44 Indian miniature paintings in the Islamic and Indian Art from the Abraaj Collection covering two main schools, Pahari and Rajasthani, from the 17th to the mid-19th centuries, and also some Mughal works. A work, possibly illustrating the story of Madhavanala and Kamakandala, dated circa 1780 sold for £81,250, and an illustration from the Sundar Shringar, also dated 1780, made £68,750.

The sales also featured many works from other collections. Highlights included:

On the Banks of the Nile by Mahmoud Moktar which sold for £248,750 (estimate £150,000-250,000)
Portrait of Amin Rihani by Kahlil Gibran that sold for £92,500 (estimate £92,500)
Triptych by George Keyt that sold for £162,500 (estimate £ 60,000-90,000)

Total sale results for the week (including the works from the Abraaj Collection) were:

Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art and Art of Pakistan: £3,719,125
Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern Art: £2,256,750.
Islamic and Indian Art: £1,822,875

Total: £7,798,750.


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest and most renowned auctioneers, offering fine art and antiques, motor cars and jewellery. The main salerooms are in London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, with auctions also held in Knightsbridge, Edinburgh, Paris, San Francisco and Sydney. With a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 22 countries, Bonhams offers advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full list of forthcoming auctions, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, please visit bonhams.com.


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