Collector Shiek Found Dead

London -- Sheikh Saud bin Mohammed Al-Thani of Qatar, at one time the biggest art collectors in the world, died at his home here on Sunday, aged 48.

The news was announced at a museums conference in Doha, earlier yesterday, 10 November.

The cause of his death has not been announced, although it is believed to have been from natural causes.

Sheikh Al-Thani, a distant cousin of the current Emir, served as Qatar’s minister of culture from 1997 until 2005. He oversaw an ambitious museum building program for the oil and gas-rich Gulf state.

He also built a massive collections of antiquities, photography, Chinese and Islamic art (many of his purchases in this field are now on display in the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha).

He also collected furniture, vintage cars, natural history, jewelry, even bicycles, but it was sometimes unclear if the collections he had assembled belonged to him or to Qatar.

In 2005 he was dismissed and placed briefly under house arrest while some of his purchases were investigated. He returned to the market a short time later, buying for his own collections in various fields including Chinese art and coins.

In 2012, a High Court judge in London froze $15m worth of his assets as part of a dispute over unpaid bills to auction houses. The numismatic auctioneers Baldwin’s, Dmitry Markov and M&M Numismatics, accused him of defaulting on bids for items from the Prospero Collection, a cache of Greek coins.

Henry Graves Complication

Al-Thani was the owner of the Henry Graves Jr. Patek Philippe Supercomplication, expected to sell for in excess of $15,000,000 today at Sotheby's in Geneva.

Its owner since 1999, Al-Thani purchased the watch at a Sotheby's for $11,000,000.

Commissioned in 1933 by prominent American banker, the Henry Graves timepiece is the most complicated watch ever made, costing 60,000 SF at the time of original purchase.

It took Patek Philippe over three years, and the most advanced horological technique in engineering, to create this truly one-of-a-kind timepiece. Only one watch was ever built.

Its complications include a perpetual calendar with phases and age of the moon, indication of sunrise and sunset, and a celestial chart depicting the stars in the nighttime sky over New York City.[

The timepiece's recent owner, Al-Thani was a world-class collector of art, cars, watches, natural history, and well, just about everything. That is until he ran into financial difficulties and several of his pieces were put on the auction block.

Will Al-Thani's death have any impact at all on the sale of the Graves Supercomplication today? Probably not. Nevertheless, this is an absolutely fascinating turn of events just hours before the sale of the most valuable timepiece on earth.

Today's Featured Art Video provides a glimpse of the wonders of the Graves Supercomplication Watch.