A portrait of King Farouk is displayed in the window of an antique store in Cairo, Egypt. Photographer: DANA SMILLIE/Bloomberg
INTERNATIONAL - A Patek Philippe watch made for King Farouk of Egypt in 1944 sold to an unidentified buyer for $912,500 at Christie’s in Dubai last Friday, a record sum for a timepiece auctioned in the Middle East.

The 18-carat gold Patek Philippe Ref. 1518 was estimated to be worth as much as $800,000 by the auction house, which concluded its 23rd auction season in the region. A Rolex GMT-Master made for Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum fetched $162,500, surpassing the estimate of $120,000-$160,000. The sales total for the auction was $7.1 million, compared with an estimate of $5 million to $8 million. 

“It’s very clear there’s an appetite for watches across the region,” Michael Jeha, managing director of Christie’s Middle East, said in an interview.

Five artists from Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, and Egypt set world auction records at Christie’s postwar and contemporary art sale on Thursday, even though the sales total of $2.97 million fell short of the low estimate of $3.1 million. The most expensive work offered, Une vie singuliere by the late Shafic Abboud of Lebanon, didn’t sell after bids came in below the low estimate of $220,000.

Iranian artist Sohrab Sepehri’s Untitled, painted circa the 1970s, was the top lot of the night, selling for $287,500 against an estimate of $150,000-$200,000. The piece is from the artist’s Abstract series, which has been kept at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, among other places, since Sepehri’s death in 1980.

The 2009 Good Luck by Huguette Caland, born in Lebanon, fetched $162,500 (estimate: $80,000-$120,000). Another Lebanese painter, Hussein Madi, set a record with his 1998 Baghdad Landscape, which went for $75,000, well above the high estimate of $18,000.

Untitled, by Iraqi painter Naziha Selim, sold for $11,250, a record for the artist, who died in 2008. The painting was sold as part of a collection of Fadhil Chalabi, who served as acting secretary general of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in the 1980s.

Egyptian Zeinab Abd El Hamid’s Quartier Populaire, an oil on canvas painted in 1956, sold for $58,750, far exceeding the $12,000-$18,000 estimate.

Oneness Wholeness, Tree of Life, by Iranian artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar in 2017, sold for $15,000 (estimate: $12,000-$18,000). Bakhtiar, who was born in 1984, will exhibit his new series, “Oneness Wholeness,” at London’s Saatchi Gallery in May.