Dubai recently witnessed history when the world’s largest painting was sold on auction. Artist Sacha Jafri raised a whopping $62 million for children’s charities with his record-breaking artwork. “I was stuck in Dubai and I wanted to create something poignant, something that would mean something,” Jafri said in a past interview with CNN.
‘The Journey of Humanity’
Jafri created the world’s largest art canvas painting when he had no choice but to stay in Dubai due to a nationwide lockdown. He worked 20 hours a day for seven months at the ballroom of the Atlantis the Palm. The process was long and tedious. The British contemporary artist even had to undergo an emergency spine surgery at one point.
The Palm put the finished artwork on display for three months. The painting was then unveiled in February at the Leila Heller Gallery.
The canvas painting, which Jafri named “The Journey of Humanity,” measures a total of 18,000 square feet. That’s roughly the size of four NBA regulation basketball courts. The Guinness Book of World Records named it as the world’s largest painting on canvas.
On March 22, Dubai-based crypto-entrepreneur Andre Abdoune bought ‘The Journey of Humanity’ for USD 62 million (AED 228 million) at a charity auction. It was the most expensive art sale to take place in the UAE.
Humanity Inspired Initiative
Jafri originally planned to divide the painting in sections and sell them in four different auctions. He was hoping to raise USD 30 million, as part of the Humanity Inspired Initiative. Proceeds will go to charities like UNESCO, UNICEF, Dubai Cares, and The Global Gift Foundation.
But French-born businessman Abdoune had other plans. In support of Jafri’s vision and children around the world, he decided to buy the entire painting–for double the price.
“I come from a poor family, and I knew at times how it feels to have nothing to eat. The painting was very powerful when I saw it, and, for me, it would have been a mistake to separate the pieces,” he told Agence France Presse. Abdoune plans to build a museum for the painting and start a children’s foundation with Jafri.
An Artist for Advocacy
Before making the world’ largest painting, Sacha Jafri has long been making art for the sake of charity. He has raised more than $60 million for different charitable causes over the last 20 years. His work has benefited several charities like the Start Foundation (Dubai), Le Pegasus Polo Centre (India), Heads Together (UK), and more.
Many famous celebrities and stars are proud owners of Jafri’s art. They include Barack Obama, Sir Paul McCartney, David Beckham, Sir Richard Branson, George Clooney, and Eva Langoria.
Dubai is home to an active and vibrant art scene. As art galleries and events continue to thrive in Dubai, it seems that huge investors are turning to art during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ArtMarket reports that online art and antique sales hit a record high of USD 12.4 billion in 2021. This is double the figure from the previous year and demand remains robust, according to the report.