In 2015, the former Prime Minister of Qatar, billionaire Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, made headlines when he acquired Picasso’s renowned masterpiece, “The Women of Algiers (Version O).” During an intense 11-minute auction at Christie’s, the royal not only outbid his competitors but also set a new record by purchasing the vibrant painting for an astonishing $180 million. Remarkably, as the bidding reached the $120 million mark, the Picasso became the object of pursuit for five clients communicating on telephone.
Despite his competitors’ gradual $1 million increases, Sheikh proved to be a strong adversary in the bidding. What adds intrigue to this New York auction is that it marked the final public unveiling of the vibrant artwork, which contains motifs typically reserved for private viewing due to the strict laws of the Middle East.
The Qataris bidded in increments of a million dollars for the Picasso masterpiece. Image – Christies.
The Qatar royal family has an impeccable eye for art, and although not always for public display, HBJ is an experienced art collector who wouldn’t miss such an opportunity. With an extensive real estate portfolio that includes a $281 million penthouse at One Hyde Park in Knightsbridge, a $192 million property near Belgrave Square, and luxurious superyachts like the $400 million superyacht Katara, there are plenty of spaces where Picasso’s cubist masterpiece could find a new home. Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani was once nicknamed “the man who bought London” due to his ownership of several properties in the city.
The $400 million Katara superyacht.
Sheikh Saud Al-Thani alone invested a staggering $1 billion in art. Meanwhile, his older brother, Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali Al Thani, possesses one of the most extensive collections of modern Arab art globally, with an estimated 6,300 pieces. Their remarkable collection includes notable masterpieces such as Paul Cézanne’s “The Card Players,” valued at $250 million, Andy Warhol’s “The Men in Her Life” at $64 million, and an astonishing $310 million worth of J. Ezra Merkin’s 11 Rothkos.