Christie’s inaugural sale in Dubai at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel. Christie’s inaugural sale in Dubai last month at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel.

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Hundreds attended the pre-sale viewing and the 127 lots of international Modern and Contemporary art offered on the evening of May 24 generated a premium-inclusive $8.49m with 87 per cent of lots sold.

Not surprisingly, given the relatively close proximity of the Indian subcontinent, Christie's chose to focus on the bullish Contemporary Indian art sector for this toe-in-the-water exercise.

The recipe proved as popular in the Emirates as it has in New York and London, although this was an event which drew an international roster of buyers as established collectors vied with bidders new to the auction process.

Eight of the ten highest prices were paid for works from the red-hot Bombay Progressives school selling to a mix of US, Middle Eastern and Indian private buyers, while the day's top price went to Indian artist Rameshwar Broota (b.1941). Numbers, his 5ft 11in x 4ft 1in (1.8 x 1.2m) oil on canvas painted in 1979 was carried off by an Indian private buyer for a multi-estimate $800,000 (£449,440) establishing one of eight new records for Contemporary Indian artists.

The sale also featured the work of artists from the emerging markets of Syria and Iran and the showcasing of this talent on the international stage saw a further 45 new auction highs.

The largest proportion of buyers, 53 per cent, came from the Middle East, followed by 23 per cent from Europe, 11 from both the Americas and Asia and two per cent from elsewhere.

By Anne Crane