World’s largest canvas auctioned off for charities in Dubai

Painted during the coronavirus lockdown, the canvas was sold for $62 million.
Wednesday 24/03/2021
A visitor walks past a painting by the British artist Sacha Jafri at the Atlantis hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates March 22, 2021.  (REUTERS)
A visitor walks past a painting by the British artist Sacha Jafri at the Atlantis hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates March 22, 2021. (REUTERS)

DUBAI--An artwork created from the world’s largest canvas painting was sold for $62 million in Dubai, the second most expensive painting sold at auction by a living artist.

The original painting, “The Journey of Humanity” by British artist Sacha Jafri, holds the Guinness World Record for the largest art canvas.

Painted on one large canvas on the ballroom floor of the Atlantis hotel in Dubai over seven months of the coronavirus pandemic, the canvas was split into 70 lots for sale.

They were all bought together by Andre Abdoune, a French national living in Dubai who has a cryptocurrency business.

Jafri’s aim had been to raise $30 million for charities by auctioning the 1,800 square metres of canvas in sections, but Abdoune put in a bid for the entire work.

Abdoune said he is planning a “second step” for the painting, hoping to raise even more money for charity, without giving further details. For now, he intends to leave the painting in Dubai.

“The aim was always to change the lives of children around the world and try and reconnect humanity,” said Jafri, who incorporated paintings in his work from children in more than 140 countries.

“The purity of intention that only children have, did something really powerful,” he said.

The charities set to benefit include UNICEF, UNESCO, Global Gift Foundation, and Dubai Cares.

Jafri, who was in the United Arab Emirates when a coronavirus lockdown was imposed, came up with the concept for the work with themes of connection and isolation.

He used 1,065 paint brushes and 6,300 litres of paint.

The most expensive painting by a living artist sold at auction was David Hockney’s 1972 “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” which in 2018 sold for $90.3 million.

In March, a digital artwork sold for nearly $70 million in the first sale by a major auction house of a piece of art that does not exist in physical form.