Born and educated in the UK, William Lawrie is the co-founder of Lawrie Shabibi, a contemporary art gallery established in 2011 in Alserkal Avenue, located in Al Quoz Industrial district in Dubai.
William was formerly director of Contemporary Middle Eastern Art at Christie's. He was the first auction house specialist to hold such a role and instigated the Christie's auctions in this field. He put together the first nine Christie's auctions in Dubai between the period 2006 to 2010 which together sold $100 million of Arab, Iranian and Turkish modern and contemporary art. These auctions are often cited as the catalyst for commercial and institutional interest in this field.
He holds and MA in History of Art from Edinburgh University, with a specialized and in Islamic Art and graduated with first class honours, having been studied under Professor Robert Hillenbrand. William then studied Arabic in Cairo before working with Sam Fogg, a prominent dealer of Islamic art in London. In 2004 he joined Christie's Islamic art department as a specialist for miniatures and manuscripts. Highlights of his years working with Islamic Art were the discovery of the earliest dated version of the Thousand and One Nights, and possibly the earliest known Chinese Qur’an, a 14th century manuscript from the period of Mongol rule in China.
Between 2005 and 2010 William created and then led Christie’s sales of Contemporary Arab and Iranian art. In 2008 he introduced Turkish contemporary art to the Dubai auctions. He was the first auction house specialist to be dedicated to this genre and the first auction of Christie’s Dubai in May 2006 is often cited as the catalyst for the increased commercial and institutional interest in this field. Since 2011 his focus has been the gallery Lawrie Shabibi.
William has participated in talks and panel discussions in Cairo, London, Istanbul, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. He has provided a commentary on the Middle East art market for international publications including the Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The New York Times, Le Monde, Le Figaro, and The Art Newspaper. He is the Middle East consultant for the Fine Art Fund and regularly conducts auctions for charitable organizations and non-profits.