Obituary: Ramzi Dalloul ( –2021)
By Celina Lei
On March 24, Palestinian-born businessman and art collector Ramzi Dalloul, who amassed one of the largest private collections of modern and contemporary Arab art during his lifetime, passed away due to cancer-related health complications in London. His age has not been specified.
Dalloul began collecting modern and contemporary from West Asia, including those from Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon in the early 1970s with his wife, Saeda El Husseini Dalloul, after they met artists from the region. During his five-decades of extensive travel, Together the Dallouls collected more than 4,000 pieces, including works by modern masters such as sculptor and painter Dia Al-Azzawi, sculptor Mahmoud Mokhtar, painter Sliman Anis Mansour, and multimedia artist Abdul Rahman Katanani. The family's collection is currently managed by his son, Basel Dalloul, who founded the Beirut-based Dalloul Art Foundation (DAF) in 2017, which hosts temporary exhibitions and a publicly-accessible digital database showcasing the collection. Through DAF, works from the collection has been lent to various international institutions, including London’s Tate Modern, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, among others.
In July 2017, DAF announced that Dalloul’s long-term dream to build a private museum to spotlight pioneering Arab artists would be realized with Beirut Arab Art Museum, centered around the foundation’s collection. The future museum, which will also hold temporary exhibitions and offer a variety of educational, research, and conservation programs, was originally slated for opening in 2020, but there have been no further updates regarding its development since last year’s Covid-19 outbreak and the city’s devasting port explosion in August. On October 26, 2020, DAF published an Instagram post showcasing the design concepts for the 10,000 to 15,000-square-meter space, by Beirut-based architect Aida Barbar.
After studying at Cairo’s American University, Dalloul moved to the United States where he obtained an MBA from Columbia Business School, and in 1968, a PhD in economics from Columbia University. From 1974, he spearheaded the Arab Projects and Development (APD) as the board’s chairman and CEO, conducting economic studies for countries such as Iraq, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia. He was later stationed in Beirut as senior economist of the United Nations’ Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, but relocated to Paris during the Lebanese Civil War, which began in 1975. Since then, he has had more than two decades of experience as a successful equity investor. In 2008, he was appointed director of crypto-trading platform Astra Horizons.
Celina Lei is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.
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