Sheikha revealed as the most powerful mover in world art

Emir’s sister tops the ‘ArtReview’ Power 100 thanks to the Qataris spending power

It is said that money buys power, and a Qatari Sheikha has used her nation’s healthy current account to top the annual ranking of the contemporary art world’s most influential figures.

Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani topped  ArtReview’s 12th annual “Power 100” yesterday after a string of high-profile purchases and sponsored exhibitions in the tiny emirate. The 30-year-old mother-of-three is the head of Qatar’s museum authority, and recently hit the headlines when she spent £158m on Cézanne’s The Card Players, making it the most expensive painting ever bought at auction.

Sheikha Mayassa is the sister of Qatar’s emir and is thought to control an annual budget of £1bn, which she has used to snap up works by Mark Rothko, Richard Serra, Roy Lichtenstein, Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons. She is also believed have spent £50m on Picasso’s Child With a Dove last year.

Mark Rappolt, chair of the Power 100 list, said: “In some ways the numbers speak for themselves. No one is buying in the art market like the Qataris. The decision here was fairly universal. It’s not just their buying, it is their international sponsorship of art exhibitions and institutions. Their influence is expanding.”

Sheikha Mayassa is the second woman to top the Power 100 after Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, the curator of the Documenta contemporary art exhibition in Kassel, Germany, was named last year’s number one.

Previous powerful figures have ranged from dealers and artists to collectors and curators. Heavy hitters including the legendary American dealer Larry Gagosian and noted collectors such as French businessman François Pinault and advertising mogul Charles Saatchi have all topped the list. In 2011, dissident artist Ai Weiwei’s nomination provoked anger in Beijing.

Sheikha Mayassa was educated at Duke University in North Carolina and worked for Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York before moving into the art world. As head of the Qatar Museums Authority she raised eyebrows after agreeing to buy a 1930s Cartier necklace, set with diamonds and platinum, for £2.1m in November 2011. Along with other extravagant purchases, it led some insiders to claim that her enormous buying power is distorting the market. The purchases are all expected to go on display at several new galleries currently under construction in Doha.

Sheikha Mayassa also bankrolls and sponsors overseas exhibitions, notably Damien Hirst’s retrospective at the Tate in 2012. Hirst’s name is nowhere to be seen on this year’s list; his stock has tumbled.

Three powerful art dealers and gallery owners are high in the rankings: David Zwirner, Iwan Wirth and Larry Gagosian; and the expansion of the Tate has seen the director, Sir Nicholas Serota, move up the list to sixth place, but there was a paucity of Britons among the top 100. “Just as the world economy has been more global, so has the world’s art scene,” Mr Rappolt said.

Splashing out: Her three most notable purchases

The Card Players Paul Cézanne (£158m in 2011)

Qatar joined an exclusive club with the purchase of this post-Impressionist masterpiece for a world-record price. There  are only five paintings in this Cézanne series; one is in the  Metropolitan Museum of Art, another in the Musée d’Orsay.

Lullaby Spring Pill Cabinet Damien Hirst (£14m  in 2007)

The sale of this piece at a Sotheby’s auction in London made Hirst the world’s most bankable living artist, overtaking Jasper Johns and Lucian Freud.

White Center Mark Rothko ($45m in 2007)

Setting a temporary high-water mark for post-war art, this purchase – made anonymously at the time – shocked the art world when it was sold by previous owner David Rockefeller at Sotheby’s in New York.

Arts and Entertainment
The new Fondation Louis Vuitton in the Jardin d'Acclimatation in Paris

Arts and Entertainment
Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker and Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham

Arts and Entertainment
Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’


Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'


Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from


Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Arts and Entertainment


These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, faces new problems

Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).

Arts and Entertainment
Polly Morgan

Arts and Entertainment
The kid: (from left) Oona, Geraldine, Charlie and Eugene Chaplin

Arts and Entertainment
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised

Arts and Entertainment

Review: Series 5, episode 4 Downton Abbey
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

    The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album