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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Gallery debunks rumors linking Qatar to record-breaking art purchase



Rumors have been flying around the art world that Sheikha Al Mayassa Al Thani is the new owner of Francis Bacon’s 1969 triptych Three Studies of Lucian Freud, following a record-breaking purchase of the piece during a Christie’s auction last week.

The $142,405,000 sale was made by Acquavella Galleries on behalf a secret buyer, which the New York Post has reported to be Al Thani, the chairperson of the Qatar Museums Authority:

Three Studies of Lucian Freud made history as the most expensive artwork ever to be sold at auction. It was purchased by New York’s respected Acquavella Gallery on behalf of a client who numerous sources tell us is the sheikha,” the newspaper states.

In a message to Doha News, a QMA spokeswoman declined to confirm or deny the sale, saying the authority does not comment on acquisitions.

But an Acquavella representative told Art Info that the private buyer was not Al Thani.

Rumor mill

This is not the first time wealthy Qatar has been erroneously linked to a big art sale.

Last year, the country was also rumored to have bought Edvard Munch’s The Scream for a $120 million, making it the most expensive artwork purchased at auction until this latest sale unseated it. But that piece turned out to have been bought by American business businessman Leon Black.

Still, the country has made some high-profile purchases under Sheikha Al Mayassa. The 30-year daughter of the former Emir and sister to the current one reportedly spent a record-breaking $158 million for Paul Cezanne’s “Card Players” last year.

In large part because of QMA’s massive budget, Al Thani was recently identified as the most powerful figure in the art world by Art Review.


Note: This article has been corrected to reflect a typo that misstated Leon Black as a business instead of a businessman.


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