A variety of discrete and low key print media articles are reporting that super wealthy art collector Saud bin Mohammed al-Thani has lost his position as head of the Qatari National Council for Culture, Arts and Heritage and may even be under house arrest.
The Art Newspaper reports:
According to reports published in Qatari newspapers, the Qatari Audit Bureau is now investigating a “serious misuse and misappropriation of public funds.” The Arabic language Al Sharq reported that a “senior government body” has spent one billion Qatari Riyals ($275 million) on one of its activities. One official was under preventative detention and two other people involved are out of the country, the newspaper said.
Qatar’s vast wealth and the Sheikh’s take-no-prisoner approach to auction bidding have shaken the global art scene.
According to a Tuesday March 8 New York Times posting:
By some estimates, Sheikh Saud has spent close to $1.5 billion on art in recent years…"Serious bidders would quit at the sight of him," one art expert said.
According the blog Cronaca:
In 2003, the royal family of Qatar was by itself the UK’s largest trading partner in arts and antiquities, behind only the US and Switzerland.
In an Ashcroftian twist, the Sheikh’s troubles may not be totally criminal, as his collecting tastes have included photographic and sculptural art celebrating female nudity.
According The Art Newspaper:
In June 2002, the Sheikh bought the so-called Jenkins Venus, a Roman marble statue from Newby Hall, Yorkshire, for £7,926,650 [$15,260,872.50] at Christie’s in London—the highest price ever paid at auction for any antiquity.
The Sheikh has graced this blog here, here, here and here.
Modified Image: Georgina Adam