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Sheikh Saud al- Thani

Sheikh Saud bin Muhammad bin Ali bin Abdullah bin Jassim bin Muhammed al-Thani of Qatar, cousin of the current Emir of Qatar, was born in Qatar on February 28, 1966, and died suddenly from complications of a heart condition at his home in London on November 9, 2014. Sheikh Saud was an avid collector of high-end mineral specimens, and had purchased Keith Proctor's famous "Rose of Itatiaia" specimen some years ago (see the March-April 1981 cover and the article on the Jonas mine in the May-June 2012 issue).

He was schooled in Doha before studying law at Beirut University, then returned home to join the foreign ministry. His interest in the arts and cultural heritage was kindled by stamp collecting from the age of 13. When Sheikh Hamad appointed him to head up Qatar's artistic and cultural development as president of the National Council for Culture, Arts and Heritage (1997-2005), the ruler backed Saud's eye with an almost unlimited checkbook. Saud became widely regarded as the richest and most powerful art collector in the world, driving up the art market and overseeing ambitious plans to build an extensive network of new museums (including a natural history museum), schools and libraries in the country's capitol city of Doha. He also spent over $1 billion on art during that period, which may stand as a record for one individual. "Sheikh Saud had passion, vision and an eye for incredible things," said a statement by Sheikha al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the head of Qatar Museums and sister of Sheikh Tamim, the current emir.

Qatar's royal family is well-known for its voracious collecting habits. Polite yet distant, Saud often entertained visitors at his Al Wabra farm, a breeding and research center for endangered wildlife. Alongside the ornately furnished reception were barns holding dozens of luxury cars, hundreds of vintage bicycles, Roman rarities and even fossils. Over the past 20 years, Saud assembled a vast collection of art, rare coins, artifacts and mineral specimens, with a special concentration on historical artifacts and Islamic art—a collection which today comprises the bulk of the holdings of five existing and planned museums: the Natural History Museum, the Museum of Islamic Art, the National Library, a Photography Museum, and a museum for traditional textiles and clothing. He also built major collections of antique cars, bicycles, furniture, and Chinese artifacts. Two days after his death, his pocket watch, a unique 1930s Henry Graves Super Complication by Patek Philippe, sold at a Sotheby's auction in Geneva for $24 million, the highest price ever paid for a timepiece.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2020)
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The Mineralogical Record - Sheikh Saud al- Thani
The Mineralogical Record - Sheikh Saud al- Thani The "Rose of Itatiaia" tourmaline specimen from the Jonas mine, Minas Gerais, Brazil. (Van Pelt photo)
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