The latest annual Tehran Art Auction was held over the weekend and grossed $5.1m confirming the domestic trend within Iran for buying art. Reuters covered the sale which emerged after Iranians found it more difficult to buy art in the Persian Gulf sales following economic sanctions over the country’s nuclear program.
Tehran also has a growing art gallery scene with over 200 dealers founding their businesses within the last decade:
The highest-selling pieces were two works by notable Iranian poet and painter, Sohrab Sepehri (1928-1980), “Untitled (from the tree trunk series)” and “Untitled” sold for $680,000 and $604,000 respectively.
With no other comparable event in the Iranian capital, the auction is very much a place to see and be seen.
Prominent Iranian actor, Reza Kianian, was the auctioneer at the Hotel Parsian, one of Tehran’s top hotels, on Friday and the event drew an audience of more than 1,000 – although “only about 100 of the people who attended actually bid,” said Zahra Jahan-Bakhsh, the Tehran Art Auction’s co-head of international sales.
“Iranians like to show off and this is the best way to do so,” a participant told Reuters.
Indeed, many works by the same artists could be found at private galleries for half the price. “I can tell by the cars parked in the lots that the attendees are very rich,” she said.
Other notable works on sale were “The Hunting Blue Sky” by Reza Derakhshani (1952), which fetched $227,000, and “Love” by Mohammad Ehsai (1939), which went for $219,000.
Sales at the auction have risen from about $1.7 million at the first auction in 2012 when 73 lots were sold. Last year 80 works went on the block, raising $2 million.