Qatar’s Sheikh Saud Bin Mohammed Bin Ali Al-Thani, a former culture minister who is credited with building up the country’s impressive art collection, has died suddenly in his London home aged 48.
Named among the top 10 collectors in the world by ARTnews in 2011, Sheikh Saud was considered one of the most influential men in the international art scene.
“He was a pretty charismatic person… Thanks to him, Doha has one of the great collections in the world. Its importance is up there with the British Museum, the Met in New York and the Louvre,” said Oliver Watson, IM Pei professor of Islamic art and architecture at the University of Oxford.
A former Qatari culture minister and cousin of the current Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, he is believed to have spent $1.5 billion building up Qatar’s art collection and his biggest legacy will be the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha.
Sheikh Saud was given the task of was creating a series of world-class museums in Doha in 1997.
Anna Somers Cocks, founder of The Art Newspaper, said: “He was a shooting star, and was incredibly influential in the Middle East. He was a truly passionate collector and doesn’t get full credit for what he amassed.”
The cause of death has not been revealed.