Qatar snaps up Rolf Harris’ original Rolfaroo for $54 million
DOHA: Yet another piece of art history was en route to the Middle East last night after the Gulf kingdom of Qatar made a multi-million dollar addition to its growing collection.
A 1974 sketch by highly acclaimed Antipodean art luminary Rolf Harris of his iconic Rolfaroo character, believed by experts to be “one of the most well preserved original Rolfaroos in existence”, was snapped up at auction by the Qatari royal family for $56 million, beating several well-known art collectors to win the masterpiece.
“Obviously, they’ve had to pay a pretty penny for it,” said art appraiser Wolfgang Rudelbums. “But the Rolfaroo’s importance simply can not be overplayed. You take any art history course and it’s likely to be there. It’s a major, major image, one that helped define the free-form sketch landscape of the 1980s and 90s.”
Harris’ Rolfaroo is likely to be put on show in the Qatar National Museum alongside works by Paul Cezanne, Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, Mark Rothko and Tony Hart that have also been bought recently.
But critics have argued that the price, well above original analyst predictions in the region of $10-$14 million, has distorted the market, and expressed concerns that many more pieces of modern art would soon be heading to oil-rich Gulf states.
“Next month’s auction by Christie’s of original Garfield and Peanuts prints is going to be interesting to watch,” said one.