World’s biggest painting raises £45m for charity

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British artist’s giant painting raises £45m for children’s charities

Jafri spent eight months painting the 1,600 sq m (17,000 sq ft) artwork in a deserted hotel’s ballroom in Dubai.

He planned to sell it in 70 parts, but French cryptocurrency businessman Andre Abdoune has bought the whole work.

The price makes it one of the most expensive paintings ever sold at auction by a living artist.

Jafri said the full $62m (£45m) would go to Dubai Cares, Unicef, Unesco and the Global Gift Foundation to help disadvantaged children in countries like Brazil, India, Indonesia and South Africa.

Sacha Jafri with his work The Journey of HumanityIMAGE COPYRIGHTGETTY IMAGES
image captionJafri took inspiration from pictures sent by children from around the world

The 44-year-old artist from London originally hoped to raise $30m (£22m). He told BBC News he was “blown away” to have doubled that.

“I was really overwhelmed by what happened – to raise that amount of money from one painting in one night,” he said.

Jafri started by putting out an appeal for children to send him their pictures representing how they felt during the pandemic. He got responses from 140 countries, which he used for inspiration, he said.

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“I was in a deep meditative state. I looked through all the [children’s] work – I paint from the subconscious, and then whatever’s in there comes out. Nothing’s planned. There’s no sketches. There were no drawings.

“I was literally pouring paint, and then putting another layer on top and another layer, another layer, another layer, just feeling my way through it until something magical happened.”

In September, Guinness World Records recognised it as the largest ever art canvas.

Sacha Jafri (left) with Andre AbdouneIMAGE COPYRIGHTPYONG SUMARIA
image captionJafri (left) said the buyer Andre Abdoune wants to build a museum to house the painting

Jafri worked on his own while the Atlantis hotel was closed to visitors, and needed an emergency operation on his spine during the process, as well as injuring his pelvis and feet.

“I was on my feet but bent right down so my brush can touch the floor,” he explained. “So that’s a pretty bad position to be in for 20 hours a day. I was in a trance, so I didn’t realise the damage I was doing to my body.”

The painting, titled The Journey of Humanity, was sold in Dubai on Monday.

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